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Injury-plagued Indians weigh options

By Anthony Joki
On March 5, 2012

  • Matt LaPorta's spring training performances look to determine his fate on the 2012 roster. Photo courtesy John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer

The Cleveland Indians need to get a right-handed power hitter going into the offseason. They will go into the 2012 regular season with a left-hander heavy lineup. Against a right-handed pitcher, the Tribe will send to the plate nine left-handed hitters. If the Indians are in the race close to the trading deadline, look for them to trade for a right-handed power hitter.

The Indians are at an advantage—they have production behind the plate. Carlos Santana can hit for power, will drive in runs and draw walks. Lou Marson will hit against left-handed pitching. Last season, Marson hit .297 against left-handed pitching.

This year—or even this spring training—will determine Matt LaPorta's fate on this roster. He was the main player in the trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers. LaPorta has been a major disappointment as a hitter, striking out too often, and his power has not fully developed yet.

Casey Kotchman was signed for his defense this year, and he has made fewer errors in his entire career than the Indians committed last year at first base.

Jason Kipnis came into last year as a rookie and provided a spark with his power. He also has a very good glove.

When it comes to shortstop, it is a one man position as Cabrera comes off his best year in the majors. He made the highlight reel almost every game and hit .273 along with a career high of 25 home runs.

Third base is Lonne Chisenhall's job to lose. He is the future of the Indians at this spot. Jack Hannahan is a good back-up, and even though he is left-handed, he hits left-handed pitches very well.

With Grady Sizemore's fourth injury since 2010, Michael Brantley may shift to center-field allowing Shelly Duncan to play in left-field. Duncan provided surprising power last year, hitting 11 home runs in just 76 games played.

This week Sizemore underwent microdiscectomy, a procedure in his lower back. He will be out for eight to 12 weeks.

The Indians acquired Russ Canzler this off-season from the Rays. He is a young, talented power-hitter who can also play first base. Shin-Soo Choo will have to rebound from an injury-plagued season if the Indians want to have any chance at winning the A.L. Central. 


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