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Here's the plan for the new guys

Here's the plan for the new guys

Detroit - Matt LaPorta, Josh Barfield and Luis Valbuena made it to Comerica Park in time for Saturday's game against Detroit but didn't get into the lineup.

They might be in there today when the Indians finish a three-game series against Detroit by facing Justin Verlander.

The slumping Indians rattled their roster with the addition of LaPorta, Barfield and Valbuena from Class AAA Columbus, but their direct flight Saturday morning from Durham, N.C., to Detroit was canceled and they had to make a connection through Chicago.

Manager Eric Wedge said he wouldn't have started them even if they had arrived when scheduled.

Here's how they're expected to be used:

LaPorta, at the very least, will start against left-handers. Verlander is a right-hander, but Toronto is starting lefties Brian Tallet and Brett Cecil on Monday and Tuesday at Rogers Centre.

He'll play left field, right field and first base. LaPorta played first base Friday night for Columbus.

"It was the first time I'd played there since the Futures Game last year," said LaPorta.

LaPorta, 24, hit .333 (25-for-75) with four doubles, two triples, five homers and 14 RBI in 21 games at Columbus. He hit .353 (6-for-17) against lefties and .328 (19-for-58) with five homers and 13 RBI against righties.

Valbuena, 23, probably will see most of his playing time at second and third base. He'll also play short. He made his big-league debut with Seattle last year, hitting .245 (12-for-49) with one RBI.

He's a left-handed hitter with some speed. The Indians didn't say it, but they probably consider him an upgrade over veteran Tony Graffanino. To make room for the new arrivals, Graffanino was designated for assignment, reliever Joe Smith was placed on the disabled list and Trevor Crowe was optioned to Columbus.

Valbuena hit .321 (25-for-78) with four doubles, two triples, three homers and 13 RBI in 21 games at Columbus. He scored 15 runs and stole three bases.

"LaPorta and Valbuena were very impressive in spring training," Wedge said. "You always respect a player who gets sent down and gets after it."

Barfield, 26, will play second base and the outfield. He'll be used as a pinch runner and late-inning replacement.

"It's good to be back," said Barfield, who started the season with the Tribe but was optioned after appearing in one game.

Barfield hit .306 (15-for-49) with three doubles and 11 RBI in 12 games. He scored five runs and stole two bases. He made nine starts at second and three in center field, while hitting .600 (9-for-15) with runners in scoring position.

The Indians usually don't make mass roster changes, but they're 9-15 and growing desperate.

"I'm not trying to send a message," said Wedge. "Our players are smart. They know what's going on.

"What we're trying to do is give ourselves the best chance to win ballgames. We're not going to be afraid to make changes. We're not going to sit back and let things play out."

Injury update: Travis Hafner (right shoulder) will be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Jamey Carroll (left hand) will take batting practice in Toronto and could begin a rehab assignment when the Indians return from this trip. Smith (right shoulder) will return to Cleveland today and start playing catch Wednesday. Jake Westbrook (right elbow) could throw one inning in game conditions on May 11 in Goodyear, Ariz.

Oops: Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera was charged with an error in the eighth inning Saturday when he made a nice pick and throw to first from behind second base on Placido Polanco's grounder. First base, however, was unattended.

Ryan Garko thought the ball had gone through and left the bag to trail Polanco when he made his turn.

"That can't happen," said Wedge, following the 9-7 loss. "He's got to stay on the bag. If he stays on the bag, I think Polanco is out."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5158

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 5, 2009

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