Kenny Lofton prepares for first ACC
July 8, 2008
STATELINE – It doesn’t take long to spot Kenny Lofton on the golf course.
Even with his slender frame, he has a unique blend of athleticism, hand-eye coordination and power that generates a tremendous amount of clubhead speed. His drives routinely sail more than 300 yards, yet the left-hander still has the touch to roll in long putts.
It was no different on the baseball diamond, where his lethal combination of bat speed and quickness between the bases turned him into one of the game’s most feared leadoff hitters. After making a 25-foot putt on the practice green at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, the charismatic Lofton turned and flashed a wide smile to the crowd, which erupted in cheers.
Yep, the six-time all-star certainly seems ready to play in his first-ever American Century Championship, which begins on Friday and continues through Sunday.
“I want to try and win, that’s the competitive edge I have,” said Lofton, a career .299 hitter and four-time Gold Glove centerfielder. “That’s just the mentality I have. Crowds don’t mean anything to me. I just need to go out there and do the best I can and see what happens.”
He most recently played with the Cleveland Indians, hitting .279 with six RBI in the team’s playoff run last season. The 41-year-old Lofton ended the 2007 season as a free agent and has entertained the idea of returning this season but has yet to sign with a team.
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If he stays away from the game for good, his career numbers will likely put him in the conversation of being Hall of Fame worthy.
His 622 stolen bases rank 15th on the all-time list, and his 34 stolen bases in the playoffs are a MLB postseason record. He also recorded 781 RBI, 383 doubles and 116 triples during a career that saw him play for 11 different teams.
Lofton’s best season came in 1994, when he finished fourth in American League MVP voting after hitting .349 with 57 RBI, 12 home runs and a slugging percentage of .536.
A standout basketball guard at the University of Arizona, where he played in the 1988 NCAA Final Four, Lofton would certainly add to his career numbers if he returns to baseball, but for now he’s relishing the opportunity to play in his first ACC.
“In life, you can’t predict the future,” Lofton said. “I got invited, so it’s fun to be out here. It’s something you see on TV and eventually want to be a part of, and now I am.”
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