It was bad news for the Indians out of their Spring Training site in Winter Haven, Florida, as center fielder Alex Escobar crashes into the outfield wall and severely injures his left knee.
It was soon discovered that Escobar tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and sprained his medial collateral ligament after running into the outfield wall making a catch of a fly ball hit by Pittsburgh’s Rob Mackowiak in an exhibition game. He would need reconstructive knee surgery.
“This is the worst-case scenario,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro was quoted in the March 6, 2002, edition of The Plain Dealer. “Alex completely ruptured the ACL in his knee. He’ll miss the season.
“Alex is disappointed. He was excited about how he was playing this spring. He was excited about playing with a new organization. He knew the premium we’d placed on him in the trade.”
The 23-year-old outfield prospect was one of the key acquisitions in the Roberto Alomar trade with the New York Mets less than three months prior. He was 5-for-10 with a pair of walks and two steals in his first five games of the spring.
Escobar would never become the talent that he was hoped to be, playing just 74 games in Cleveland over the next two seasons, hitting six home runs and batting .235 before he was claimed off of waivers by the Chicago White Sox. He would return to the Majors for 33 more games with the Washington Nationals in 2006 in his last hurrah in the Majors.