Lofton has successful return from injury

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The Independent Online

Kenny Lofton's surprising comeback to the field was a success. So was Shawn Green's return to Toronto.

Kenny Lofton's surprising comeback to the field was a success. So was Shawn Green's return to Toronto.

Lofton returned to the field on Saturday less than four months after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, starting in centre field in Cleveland's final exhibition game.

"This is the last hurdle," Cleveland general manager John Hart said. "It's been amazing (his recovery). The doctor said it was something that just doesn't happen. It's a medical miracle."

The Indians said it was likely Lofton would start in Monday's opener at Baltimore, but a final decision would not be made until Sunday.

"If he feels like this tomorrow, we'll open the season with him," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said.

Lofton had appeared in three exhibition games, all as a designated hitter, before Saturday. He is 6-for-12 with a home run and two stolen bases. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases in Cleveland's 6-3 loss to the Braves in Atlanta.

"I feel OK," Lofton said. "I didn't get any balls. It depends on how I feel tomorrow. If it feels as good as it did today, I can go ahead and play."

In the field, Lofton had three routine fly balls - all with no runners on base - so didn't have to throw the ball very hard, and didn't. He lobbed the ball back to the infield, some 100 feet, after each catch.

John Rocker made a return of sorts as well, pitching at Turner Field for the first time since offending a number of people in a magazine article and was greeted by mostly cheers.

Green, traded from the Blue Jays to Los Angeles for Raul Mondesi in the offseason, homered and had an RBI double as the Dodgers won at Toronto 2-1.

"It's definitely a good way to end things because I had just had great time up here," said Green, who spent five seasons in Toronto. "I just didn't want to be gone without returning here for a long time. It's nice to come back right away."

Green asked out of Toronto so he could play in his home town. The Dodgers then signed him to a six year, $84 million contract extension.

A couple of fans yelled "Traitor!" during his plate appearances.

"There were some mixed reactions but I felt good about the responses," Green said. "In my position you hear the boos a bit more because you pay more attention to that and those fans are the ones who are more aggressive in the stands.

"But definitely there were a lot of cheers and it felt good to hear that support."

In other games:

Royals 7, Twins 2 At Haines City, Florida, Mike Sweeney hit a three-run homer in a six-run seventh inning to lead Kansas City.

Expos 11, Pirates 4 At Jupiter, Florida, Carl Pavano allowed two runs in five innings to win for the fourth time in five spring decisions.

Tigers 15, Devil Rays 4 At Lakeland, Florida, Juan Guzman, who hadn't pitched since March 18 because of tightness in his upper back, gave up 11 runs - eight earned - eight hits and four walks in 3 2-3 innings.

White Sox 6, Phillies 4 At Las Vegas, Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko each homered, and James Baldwin pitched five scoreless innings.

Rangers 9, Astros 3 Leadoff hitter Royce Clayton homered twice and drove in five runs, and David Segui hit a three-run homer as Houston lost for the first time in three games at its new home, Enron Field.

Diamondbacks 12, Red Sox 8 Luis Gonzalez had three hits, including two home runs off Jeff Fassero, as Arizona beat visiting Boston.

Padres 8, Angels 7 Non-roster player Jake Thrower went 2-for-2 and drove in the winning run as San Diego overcame a five-run deficit against visiting Anaheim.

Redbirds 10, Cardinals 6 At Memphis, Tennessee, Mark McGwire sat out St Louis' final exhibition game with a bad back as the Cardinals lost to their Triple-A affiliate.

Orioles 8, Reds 3 At Chattanooga, Tennessee, Greg Myers injured himself on a home-run swing and circled the bases in a near-walk.

Brewers 9, Mariners 6 Lyle Mouton hit a three-run homer off Arthur Rhodes with two outs in the ninth after second baseman Willie Bloomquist's error prolonged the inning, leading visiting Milwaukee.

Marlins 12, Miami 6 At Coral Gables, Mike Lowell had two home runs and seven RBIs, and Alex Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles.

Athletics 11, Rockies 9 At Las Vegas, Bo Porter hit a two-run, two-out homer off Pete Walker in the ninth.

Yankees 11, Giants 6 Barry Bonds became the first player to hit a ball into San Francisco Bay, and San Francisco's Russ Davis hit two of the six solo homers at Pac Bell Park. Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada and Roberto Kelly homered for the Yankees, and Kelly added a three-run double.

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