Tribe's Lofton Needs Surgery?


Kenny Lofton, the Indians' All-Star center fielder, might need surgery on the left shoulder he dislocated while diving into first base during the AL playoffs against Boston.

He was examined Monday at Lutheran Hospital by the team's orthopedist, Dr. Louis Keppler. An MRI showed the shoulder capsule had healed but there was still rotator cuff damage.

Indians general manager John Hart said Lofton will get a second opinion after the Thanksgiving weekend and then decide whether to proceed with rehabilitation or surgery.

Casey Close, Lofton's agent, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press. An Indians spokesman said Lofton was on his way to Tucson, Ariz., for the holiday.

If Lofton is not ready for the start of the season, the Indians could make Dave Roberts or Jacob Cruz their center fielder.

Lofton, the Indians' career stolen base leader and one of baseball's top outfielders and leadoff hitters, injured his shoulder in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the Indians' division series against the Red Sox.

He had been 2-for-15 in the series before hitting a ground ball to first baseman Mike Stanley and sliding head first in an attempt to beat the throw to pitcher Pedro Martinez, covering the bag. After being called out, Lofton lay face down on the ground for several minutes and had to be helped off the field.

Lofton was at the hospital when the Red Sox completed their startling comeback to win the series and advance to the ALCS.

Lofton, who had two stints on the disabled list last season with hamstring injuries, batted .301 in 1999 with seven homers and 39 RBIs. He has a .310 career average, spending eight seasons with the Indians and one with Atlanta before re-signing as a free agent with Cleveland.

He is signed through the 2000 season with the Indians holding an option for 2001.

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