Tribe signs Lara 16 months after car accident
Just 16 months after a car accident nearly took his life, Juan Lara is going to try to take the mound.
The Indians have signed Lara to a Minor League contract, and he will report to the Player Development Complex today to begin a return-to-throw program.
Lara, 28, was in an accident in his native Dominican Republic after a Winter League game in November 2007. A motorcycle traveling at a high speed slammed into the driver’s side of Lara’s SUV, which was stopped at an intersection. The driver of the motorcycle and his passenger died immediately upon impact, and Lara suffered a spinal fracture, an arm fracture, broken ribs, a punctured lung and severe brain trauma.
At the time of the accident, the Indians were merely hoping Lara could recover enough to maintain a healthy life. So this news that he’s going to try to revive his career is both surprising and heartwarming.
Lara, a left-handed reliever, made one appearance for the Indians in 2007 and nine in ’06. He owns a career Minor League record of 28-31 with a 3.94 ERA in 257 appearances, including 59 starts.
UPDATE: Farm director Ross Atkins said Lara was medically cleared to pitch, and that, in and of itself, exceeds all previous expectations. All Lara has done to this point is play catch, so it’s way too early to speculate on when or if he can return to a professional setting. But for the next two months (at least), he’ll be down here in Goodyear in a return-to-throw program.
The doctors believe Lara’s spine can handle the torque of pitching, but the Indians will see how his muscles and core respond.