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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Published: Monday, 2/11/2013

Indians' LaPorta pain-free after latest hip surgery

BY PAUL HOYNES
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER
Matt LaPorta, right, has had fewer home run celebrations than the Indians were expecting when they traded CC Sabathia for him. Matt LaPorta, right, has had fewer home run celebrations than the Indians were expecting when they traded CC Sabathia for him.
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The pain has subsided in Matt LaPorta's left hip.

He no longer wakes in the morning and wonders if he'll be able to walk, much less play baseball. He can sleep through the night and bend over and tie his shoes if needed.

The hip hurt LaPorta all last season, but he didn't have surgery until Oct. 18.

"As an athlete, you just want to push through it," he said. "I wanted to push through it to get back to the big leagues."

Things change quickly in baseball. When the Indians traded CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008, LaPorta, 28, was the big-ticket prospect they insisted on getting in return. He's spent parts of the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons with the Indians, but has never hit the way they thought he would.

LaPorta is in camp this year as a spring-training invitee after being designated for assignment on Nov. 20. When he was dropped from the 40-man roster, he was still on crutches from the October surgery, went unclaimed by the 29 other teams in the big leagues, and was assigned to Class AAA Columbus.

"That's just the business of the game," LaPorta said.

This is probably LaPorta's last chance with the Indians. The DH spot is wide open even with the Saturday night's signing of Jason Giambi, 42.

"Any chance I get to put a uniform on is an opportunity," LaPorta said. "I'm still here and getting healthy. The main thing is to get healthy. I don't want to put the cart before the horse."

October's surgery was the second LaPorta has had on his left hip in the last three years. The first was for a torn labrum. The second removed bone fragments from the joint.

"What happened was after the first surgery was that my bone, as a reaction to them going in there, grew more bone," said LaPorta. "It's rare, but it happens. It was like having a square peg in a round hole.

"It was rubbing, and some pieces were breaking off. They got stuck in there, and I couldn't move my leg as freely as I would have liked."

LaPorta hit .264 (99-for-375) with 19 doubles, one triple, 19 homers, and 62 RBI in 101 games at Columbus. In 22 games with the Tribe, he hit .241 (14-for-58) with two doubles, one homer, and five RBIs.

"The doctor told me, 'I don't know how you functioned on an every-day level let alone play baseball,'" LaPorta said. "I knew something wasn't right dating back to last spring.

"There would be days I'd wake up and tell my wife, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk today. I don't know how I can play.' Somehow, I just managed to make it through and do OK.''

LaPorta said the Indians knew his hip was bothering him, but he never really told them to what extent. He said he should be ready to play in Cactus League games by mid-March.

NO SHOW: With the exception of left-hander Edward Paredes, all Indians pitchers and catchers required to report to camp Sunday did so. Paredes, a spring-training invitee, is having visa problems in the Dominican Republic.

Paredes, who pitched in the Mariners' organization last year, was signed as a minor league free agent.

NUMBERS: The Indians, with the addition of spring-training invitees Giambi and Daisuke Matsuzaka, will have 64 players in camp.

As soon as news broke that Matsuzaka had signed with the Indians, Japanese journalists started showing up at the Indians' training facility in Goodyear. Matsuzaka, however, is not expected to report until Tuesday or Wednesday.

FINE PRINT: Brett Myers signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Indians to pitch in their rotation. The deal came with an $8 million club option for 2014, but what was not known at the time is that Myers can vest that option if he pitches 200 innings.

If he doesn't reach 200 innings, the Indians can decide if they want to exercise the option or not.



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