LaPorta putting charge in Tribe's lineup
Outfielder's recent power surge has been pleasant surprise
CLEVELAND -- Matt LaPorta is the anti-worrier.
When the Indians' 25-year-old first baseman learned of Russell Branyan's recent trade to the Mariners, a move that directly impacted his short-term future in the Major Leagues, how did he react?
"I didn't even see that Russ got traded," LaPorta said. "And when I did, I didn't care. If that's going to make him and the Indians happier, great."
Cleveland has been pretty pleased with LaPorta this week. He entered Friday's action having smashed home runs in each of his past three games -- a stretch that might give some players reason to gloat.
"Success does help with your confidence, but you don't want to get over-confident," he said. "If you get too high, then you can start getting too low. I think you always want to stay on that even-keel."
LaPorta, the key acquisition in the July 2008 trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, batted .218 with one home run and seven RBIs in 35 games for Cleveland before being optioned to Triple-A Columbus on June 7.
On Sunday, LaPorta rejoined Cleveland knowing he'd be the recipient of regular playing time. He has rewarded the Tribe's faith, at least through five games, hitting .294 (5-for-17) with three homers and five RBIs since his recall.
"It definitely helps knowing that you're going to play pretty much every day," LaPorta said. "It makes those 0-for-4 games a little less hard to take, because you know you're going to come out the next day and have a chance to get your knocks."
Why the sudden power surge from the former first-round Draft pick?
"Nothing's changed," LaPorta said. "I feel like I'm putting my trust and faith more into Jesus. Whatever happens, happens. I'm not going to really worry about anything.
"I feel like I've always been able to hit. It was just a matter of time before I was going to do it."
Choo leaves Tribe's loss with hand injury
CLEVELAND -- The Indians lost right fielder Shin-Soo Choo to a right hand injury in Friday night's 3-0 loss to the Athletics at Progressive Field.
Choo hurt his hand diving for Jack Cust's one-out double in the top of the eighth inning. Austin Kearns replaced Choo in right field for the top of the ninth, with manager Manny Acta inserting Shelley Duncan to play left.
Acta had no information on the severity of Choo's injury immediately following the game.
"We're still evaluating him," Acta said. "We'll know more [Saturday]."
Choo, the top candidate to represent the Tribe in this month's All-Star Game, leads the Indians with a .286 batting average, 13 home runs and 43 RBIs.
Cabrera will make road trip against Rays
CLEVELAND -- Asdrubal Cabrera's next visit to Tropicana Field figures to be much more uplifting than his last.
Cleveland's shortstop, recovering from a left forearm fracture he sustained in a May 17 collision with teammate Jhonny Peralta at the Trop, will be with the Tribe in St. Petersburg, Fla., next weekend for a four-game series against the Rays.
Cabrera resumed baseball activities, taking groundballs and swinging off a tee this week in pregame workouts at Progressive Field.
"Asdrubal's been working very hard," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
But the 24-year-old has not yet progressed to the point of a rehabilitation assignment.
That could change next week.
"He's going to come to Tampa with us to intensify his workouts," Acta said. "Then, we'll look into starting his rehab schedule."
Tribe's rotation holds down Toronto
CLEVELAND -- Credit Cleveland's starters most for the team's four-game sweep of the Blue Jays this week.
Indians manager Manny Acta certainly does.
"Our [starting] rotation has been really good lately," Acta said. "They've given us the opportunity to play with a lead and not play catch-up baseball. They've given us an opportunity to win."
Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, Aaron Laffey and Justin Masterson each took a turn silencing Toronto's free-swinging lineup. And each had a victory to show for his efforts.
Acta pointed to first-pitch strikes as the driving force behind his pitchers' success.
"That's something we've preached," Acta said. "We've had mixed results so far this year, but they know it will lead to success or it will lead to trouble."
Westbrook fired first-pitch strikes to 16 of 25 batters on Monday, Carmona 19 of 27 on Tuesday, Laffey 9 of 24 on Wednesday and Masterson 20 of 34 in Thursday's series finale.
"Some of it probably had to do with the Blue Jays' aggressive approach," Acta said. "It's easier said than done."
Triple-A Columbus outfielders Michael Brantley and Jose Constanza have been selected to represent the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game. ... Double-A Akron will send three players to the Eastern League All-Star Game -- third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, outfielder John Drennen and right-handed pitcher Bryce Stowell. ... Rookie catcher Carlos Santana entered Friday's action having reached base in 25 of his past 50 plate appearances. ... Reliever Chris Perez posted a 2.13 ERA in 12 June appearances, a span of 12 2/3 innings. ... For more on the Indians, check out the CastroTurf blog.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.