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Archive for Saturday, February 23, 2002

Baseball Spring Training Roundup: Lofton likes chances with Chisox

February 23, 2002

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Kenny Lofton is looking forward to playing for the top team in the American League Central Division again.

It just won't be with the Cleveland Indians.

Lofton signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago White Sox after hitting a career-low .261 for the Indians last season.

"I look at it as Cleveland is going to be looking at our coattails," Lofton said of the team he spent nine years with. "It will be strange to play against Cleveland, but so far a lot of guys seem excited that I'm over here."

That's because they hope Lofton can help the White Sox the way he helped the Indians reach the postseason six times and the World Series in 1995.

The six-time All-Star signed a one-year deal for $1.025 million with Chicago after earning $8 million last year. And though the contract includes bonuses, it is still lower than market value.

"I looked at the different opportunities that I had and this was a team that won 83 games last year while they were banged up," Lofton said. "Cleveland lost four good players (Juan Gonzalez, Roberto Alomar, Marty Cordova and Lofton) from last year's team, and that's going to be hard to replace. This was an easy decision."

In Tuscon, Ariz., Todd Stottlemyre threw batting practice for the first time this spring as he tries to make a contribution to the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks this season.

Stottlemyre missed all of the 2001 season after having shoulder surgery and hadn't faced hitters in a year.

"It was very strange," Stottlemyre said. "Today was not as much of a physical day as it was more mental. Seeing the hitter standing in there and having to begin to narrow your concentration and into a much smaller focus. It was great."

Stottlemyre said he threw for about 11 minutes with 10 minutes of warm-up and went through all his pitches, with an emphasis on trying to throw strikes.

He said that in the past he never would have thrown any sliders at this point in the preseason, a testament to how good he's feeling.

"It was a little different intensity than throwing on the side," said Stottlemyre.

Johnny Damon hopes to improve his skills as a leadoff hitter with help from the newest Boston Red Sox, Rickey Henderson.

Henderson, who signed a minor league contract Feb. 13, participated in his first workout in Fort Myers, Fla., with the Red Sox on Friday.

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