Today in Tribe History: August 18, 2008

Newly acquired top prospect Matt LaPorta is hit on the head by a fastball in an ugly turn of events at the Beijing Olympics.

The 23-year-old slugger was the prospect centerpiece of the July 7th trade between the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers that sent reigning Cy Young winner CC Sabathia to the playoff contending Brewers. He was hitting .288 for the Double-A Huntsville Stars with 20 homers and 66 RBI in 83 games before moving onto the Akron Aeros roster for the Indians. Prior to heading off to the Olympics, he was hitting just .212 with a homer and seven RBI in 14 games for the Indians’ Double-A affiliate. He was one of two players from the Indians organization on the USA Baseball roster, joined by Triple-A reliever Jeff Stevens.

In a game between the US team and China’s, LaPorta was involved in a play at home in the fifth inning. The collision at the plate, lacking any slide whatsoever, knocked out the starting Chinese catcher Wei Wang with a left knee injury to increase the US lead. Two innings later, and just after teammate Nate Schierholtz delivered a punishing blow to backup catcher Yang Yang, LaPorta took a fastball to the helmet from pitcher Chen Kun. LaPorta left the game and was taken to the hospital, diagnosed with a mild concussion.

In total, six men were hit by pitches, two players left the game injured, and three representatives from the Chinese team, including head coach and former MLBer Jim Lefebvre and assistant coach Steve Ontiveros, were ejected.

The US team won the game, 9-1. LaPorta will play just three more games with the Aeros this season upon return from the Olympics and his injury. He will go 3-for-8…and be hit by two more pitches.

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