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Lara suffered spinal injury, brain damage in accident

11/27/2007 - MLB Juan Lara Cleveland Indians + more

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Doctors examining
Cleveland Indians reliever Juan Lara found he had a spinal
fracture, plus severe brain trauma from a weekend car accident.

Lara, who pitched in one game for Cleveland last season, was
returning from a winter league game Saturday night in San Pedro de
Macoris when the sports utility vehicle he was driving was hit by a
motorcycle, killing both its rider and passenger.

"Juan's condition is very fragile. In the last medical report
we found that he has a severe brain trauma, and we also found a
fracture in the spinal column, with the D2 [second vertebra] in an
unstable condition," hospital spokeswoman Dashira Martinez told
The Associated Press.

Martinez said doctors have not determined whether there will be
any paralysis.

"For the moment the doctors' prognosis is reserved, which means
we should give it time to see how it evolves before making
reference to that possibility," she said.

The 26-year-old Lara remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Lara, who was stopped at an intersection, was struck on the
driver's side and pinned inside the vehicle. The motorcycle's rider
and passenger were killed.

The Indians sent Lino Diaz, director of Latin American
Operations, to the Dominican Republic to check on Lara.

"We'll go to the hospital to see how he is, and we will talk
with the doctors, the Dominicans as well as those from the Indians,
to determine the path to take," said Winston Llenas, the team's
representative in the Caribbean nation.

Lara, originally signed by the Indians in 1999, spent most of
last season with Triple-A Buffalo. He was recalled from the minors
on Sept. 4 and made his only appearance for the Indians two days
later, working 1 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

The left-hander pitched in nine games for the Indians in 2006.
That year, Lara also pitched for Buffalo and Double-A Akron,
compiling a 5-3 record before making his major league debut Sept. 8
against the Chicago White Sox.

Lara had seven scoreless outings for the Indians, who signed him
out of their Dominican Academy in 1999. He is on the club's 40-man
roster.