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Lofton arrives in Goodyear as guest coach

Lofton arrives in Goodyear as guest coach

Lofton arrives in Goodyear as guest coach
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A spry Kenny Lofton showed up at Indians camp Wednesday in a great mood and looking like he could still play in the big leagues.

The former outfielder is hoping that his appearance -- and reputation -- will work in his favor with the young players on Cleveland's roster during his stint as a guest coach this week.

"I think my name in the Indians organization is still fresh in their minds, so that helps," Lofton, 43, said. "I had success in the game, and hopefully they can look at that and say, 'Hey, maybe this guy does have something I need to know.'"

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Lofton has plenty of knowledge to share. He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame last year and was a five-time All-Star in Cleveland during his 17-year career. Lofton led the American League in stolen bases for five consecutive seasons starting in 1992 and is the club's career leader in stolen bases with 452.

"I run and stole bases and I played outfield and bunted, so that's what my specialty was. So I'm going to do what I can do to add to what they are doing," said Lofton, who owns and operates a film and television production company in Los Angeles. "I'm not trying to change a guy or make him do something different, or make them think they are doing something wrong, but just give them a little edge on certain areas they might need."

The Indians could improve on the basepaths. Led by Shin-Soo Choo's 22 stolen bases, the Indians stole 91 bases and ranked ninth in the American League last season. By contrast, Lofton set a single-season club record with 75 stolen bases in 1996.

"The main thing is to be aggressive," Lofton said. "You can't be timid out there. If you go out there and you get caught stealing, 'Hey, go again. Oh, well.' If you fall off the horse, you have to get on it again. I think a lot of guys get intimidated by getting picked off or caught stealing."

Lofton's excitement is evident. Before he even stepped on the field for his first workout, he talked about returning to Indians camp for another week of coaching at the end of Spring Training. He's especially eager to speak to speedy outfielder Michael Brantley, but said that he'll be happy to talk to any young player willing to listen.

"Each individual has their thing they need to work on and has their specialties, and I think a lot of these guys want to do so much more," Lofton said. "What I mean is that if you have two good tools, concentrate on those and don't try to be a five-tool player when you aren't. You can work on it but you make your main focus on being a base-stealer or home run hitter or slasher, if that is what you do."

Lofton speaks from experience. In 1995, Lofton's Indians won 100 games and made it to the World Series because of teamwork, he said. The Braves topped the Indians, four games to two, in that year's Fall Classic. But it's a season Lofton will never forget.

"Everyone had certain things they did and everyone stuck to the plan," Lofton said. "If these guys stick to the plan of what they do well, this team will be alright."

Lofton already knows this year's club is in good hands. He and Indians manager Manny Acta were teammates in Class A in 1990.

"[Acta] understood the game and he was smart, he just couldn't hit," Lofton said with a smile. "We had a barrier because of language, but we made it work because he was all about baseball. Now, he's managing and it's a good fit for him."

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