- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

GOODYEAR, ARIZ. (AP) - Pitcher Juan Lara will be back in a Cleveland Indians minor league uniform this week after he nearly died in a car crash.

His car had stopped at a light when it was hit by a speeding motorcycle in November 2007. He was heading home after playing in the winter league in his native Dominican Republic.

Lara was left with severe brain trauma, a fractured spine, two broken ribs, a broken arm and punctured lung. The motorcycle’s driver and passenger were killed instantly.

Doctors kept Lara in a medically induced coma for weeks before fitting him with a halo vest to support his neck. He later had surgery on his spine and arm.

Lara reported to the Indians’ camp Tuesday and will participate in extended spring training before being assigned to a minor league affiliate.

“He’s in a good frame of mind, delighted to be here,” said Ross Atkins, the Indians’ director of player development. “It was nice to see him greeted by former teammates. He’s been throwing at home, so we will take at look at him for six or seven weeks and see what he can do.”

Lara pitched in one game for the Indians in 2007 after going 4-3 with two saves and a 3.88 ERA in 52 appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. In 10 games overall in the majors, he has a 4.26 ERA with no record over 6 1-3 innings.

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