Kenny Lofton and Curt Schilling might be returning sooner than expected.
Lofton, playing his first game since undergoing shoulder surgery in December, reached base three times and scored twice on Saturday in his first action this spring as Cleveland beat Detroit 7-3 in Winter Haven, Florida.
Lofton wasn't expected to be back with the Indians until the All-Star break. But to nearly everyone's surprise, the six-time All-Star center fielder was back in the Indians' lineup, going 1-for-3 with a single, two walks and a strikeout.
"I'm feeling good physically," he said. "But it's still a day-to-day thing. I can't say I'm surprised that I came back this quickly because I've never had any kind of surgery like this before."
He had been limited to about 25 at-bats in minor league games during training camp before batting leadoff as the Indians' designated hitter against the Tigers.
Lofton began a throwing program earlier this month to strengthen the rotator cuff he tore while diving headfirst into first base during last year's playoffs against Boston.
He can throw a ball about 150 feet on a line, but he isn't well enough to play center yet. But with the way he's progressing, it appears Lofton may begin the regular season on Cleveland's 25-man roster.
"He's getting close to playing, but we don't want to have a setback," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said.
Schilling continued his rapid comeback from shoulder surgery on December 13. He threw for 15 minutes in the bullpen in Clearwater, Florida, then announced he would face hitters for the first time on Monday. He's lobbying for a chance to pitch at least an inning in the Phillies' final exhibition game April 2 in Seattle.
"That's not going to happen," said Phillie"
Schilling's doctor, Craig Morgan, said he could beat projections of returning in May by as much as two weeks. The 33-year-old ace had his right shoulder capsule tightened, and he and Morgan agree he could come back better than ever.
After his bullpen session, Schilling watched Pedro Martinez overpower some of Philadelphia's best hitters before the Phillies came back to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-4.
Martinez struck out six in 4 2-3 innings. He allowed two runs and six hits and walked one. Afterward, he turned up the expectations in the Red Sox clubhouse just a notch.
"I've gotten pretty much everything that you can get," said Martinez, who had one of the best seasons in baseball history last year. "I've been to All-Star games, I've struggled, I've had success. I've had all kinds of things. I need to win. I want to see Boston, what it's like when we win it."
In other games:
Royals 11, Braves 4 At Kissimmee, Florida, Johnny Damon hit a pair of home runs on Saturday, including a three-run shot in an eight-run first inning against Atlanta's projected fifth starter Bruce Chen. John Rocker pitched one scoreless inning of relief.
Yankees 7, Marlins 5 At Tampa, Florida, Roger Clemens allowed five runs in six innings and Derek Jeter hit his fourth homer of the spring. The Yankees also said that Orlando Hernandez will start opening day on April 3 at Anaheim.
Rangers 5, Pirates 5, 11 innings At Bradenton, Florida, Wil Cordero hit a three-run home run one day after not showing up for a road game. Cordero returned to the lineup after unexpectedly missing Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves. He met on Saturday with manager Gene Lamont, who said afterward the situation was resolved.
Dodgers 2, Orioles (ss) 1 At Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Orel Hershiser pitched no-hit ball for five innings and Dave Hansen doubled in the tiebreaking run in the ninth.
Twins 6, Blue Jays 4 At Dunedin, Florida, Eric Milton struck out 10 batters in six innings, including Raul Mondesi three times. Mondesi was ejected in the sixth for arguing a called third strike.
Reds 9, Devil Rays 6 At St Petersburg, Florida, Dmitri Young hit a two-run homer and finished with four RBIs, while Dante Bichette went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer off Ryan Rupe.
Orioles 5, Cardinals 3 At Jupiter, Florida, Jim Edmonds went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in his first game for St Louis. Ryan Minor, who played third for Baltimore in place of Cal Ripken, had three hits for the Orioles.
Astros 2, Expos 1 At Kissimmee, Florida, Dwight Gooden pitched three scoreless innings and Lance Berkman drove in the winning run with a single in the eighth inning.
Padres 11, Mariners 7 At Peoria, Arizona, Al Martin shrugged off the controversy surrounding him and went 2-for-4 with a homer. Since returning from his arrest in a bizarre domestic violence case, Martin is 5-for-10 with a double, homer and a stolen base.
Angels 10, Giants 0 At Scottsdale, Arizona, Adam Kennedy made a good impression in his first appearance with Anaheim, homering in his first at-bat and adding a two-run triple.
Diamondbacks (ss) 10, Athletics 9 At Tucson, Arizona, Randy Johnson allowed three home runs in his final spring start before Arizona rallied for seven runs in the eighth inning.
Rockies 14, Brewers 8 At Phoenix, Rolando Arrojo pitched five strong innings and Darren Bragg hit a two-run homer and a two-run double for Colorado.
Diamondbacks (ss) 11, White Sox 11, 10 innings At Tucson, Arizona, Liu Rodriguez hit a two-run homer, his first of the spring, in the bottom of the ninth inning as Chicago and Arizona played to a tie.Reuse content