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Larkin Goes Out Again, Facing Neck Surgery

Associated Press

Cincinnati Reds All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin, unable to protect himself defensively because of a perforated disk in his neck, needs surgery and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Larkin will definitely miss the Reds’ March 31 opener and at least the first week of the regular season.

Surgery to remove a protrusion from a vertebrae in his neck will be performed Friday in Cincinnati.

Larkin, who played in only 73 games last season due to heel, calf and Achilles’ tendon injuries, called the problem “frustrating, very frustrating,” in part because he is not experiencing severe pain.

“But, defensively, I can’t defend myself,” Larkin said Wednesday. “I almost got hit in the face twice by line drives because I can’t lift my left arm to protect my face.”

Vaughn balks

Mo Vaughn refused Boston’s request that he undergo an alcohol evaluation, saying the Red Sox are using his arrest on drunken driving charges as an excuse not to sign him.

The first baseman, acquitted last week in Dedham (Mass.) District Court, said the team told him it would not resume negotiations on a long-term deal until it was certain Vaughn does not have a drinking problem. But Vaughn said the request was the first volley in an effort to blame him if he leaves via trade or free agency.

“Watch out for the smear campaign. It’ll be coming soon to a theater near you. And it will be a double feature, gentlemen,” he said. “Next I’ll be doing drugs. Then I’ll be selling drugs. They’re going to paint a whole pattern of negativity. That’s typical of the way things go around here.”

Indians sign defector

The Cleveland Indians signed Cuban defector Osmani Santana, giving them a candidate to succeed Kenny Lofton in center field.

Santana, who defected last August, was a member of the Cuban Junior National team.

McDonald goes back

The Indians traded injured right-hander Ben McDonald back to Milwaukee, receiving left-handed prospect Mark Watson.

McDonald, acquired on Dec. 8, had season-ending surgery on his damaged right rotator cuff. The Indians, who also have lost starter Chad Ogea for 4-6 weeks, could not afford to wait until McDonald is ready to pitch next year.

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