When the Bowie Baysox acquired James Lofton Jr., they became the 13th team in the 30-year-old infielder's 10-year pro career. Last night, his latest stop came to an abrupt halt, at least temporarily, when he was hit on the jaw by a 91-mph fastball from the New Hampshire Fisher Cats' Ryan Houston.
Lofton was taken to Bowie Health Center for X-rays, where he was still being evaluated. When Bowie Manager Dave Trembley saw Lofton go down, his first thought was that he was hit in the eye then he saw the blood coming out of Lofton's mouth.
"I haven't ever seen anybody get hit in the face like that," Trembley said. "It's unfortunate because James just joined us. He's trying to find his way back into organized affiliated baseball. We're real happy to have him, and I hope he'll be okay. We're waiting to see what the X-rays show. Hopefully, his jaw is not broken and maybe it's just a day off or so."
Lofton, acquired from the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League on June 16, is often mistaken for the son of the NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver with the same name, grew up watching two of his uncles play professionally. Derrell Thomas played every position except pitcher for seven teams during a 16-year major league career, while the other is New York Yankees center fielder Kenny Lofton.
James Lofton Jr., who played eight games for the Boston Red Sox in 2001, hopes to gain another shot in the majors but for now is happy to be in Bowie. He has who has started since his first day with the Baysox.
"I was expecting a [major league] team to call but was surprised to hear from the Orioles," said Lofton before the game. "I'm glad they called, though, because you never know what would've happened with the other team."
Lofton has played in six games and is batting .350 with seven hits in 19 at-bats, two doubles and two runs scored. Trembley was hoping Lofton's work ethic and approach to the game will serve as an example to his younger teammates.
"James brings experience and the knowledge of how to play," said Trembley after a longer-than-usual batting practice before the player was injured. "Players learn by what they see, not hear . . . we're hoping James will come in and be professional, in hopes it will rub off on some of the younger players."
Special correspondent Kathy Orton contributed to this report.