Lofton has averaged 104 runs and 48 stolen bases in his 10 full major-league seasons. Durham has averaged 102 runs and 28 steals in his seven-year career. It's a combination that should also lead to some big RBI numbers at the heart of the lineup.
"It's an interesting lineup," said No. 3 hitter Frank Thomas. "I've never had a 1-2 this good in front of me. Ray and Kenny can really swing the bat, and that makes things very easy for me."
Thomas should have the best of both worlds. He has those two guys batting in front of him, and Magglio Ordonez, who has averaged 31 home runs and 119 RBIs the past three seasons, hitting behind him.
Reds superstar Ken Griffey is 40 homers away from 500 and has received just about every accolade afforded a baseball player, but he insists that his career won't be complete until his individual accomplishments lead him to the ultimate goal.
"I haven't won a championship, so you take things a little more to heart because you want that one big thing," Griffey told reporters recently. "I've never heard a kid say, `It's three balls and two strikes in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game.' It's always the World Series; it's never the All-Star Game ... The dream we had at 9 or 10 is the same one we have here. That's what we're here for."
Left-hander Omar Daal has yet to throw a regular-season pitch for the Dodgers, but he already wants out of Los Angeles.
Daal, acquired from the Phillies in November, is so angry the club has decided to move him to the bullpen that he has asked to be traded.
"I told [manager Jim Tracy] I'd like to go somewhere else to be a starter," Daal said. "It's best for me, and it's best for the team. I won't be happy in the bullpen because I know I can be a starter."
Daal, who will make $5 million this year, lost out to Japanese pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii in the competition for the fifth starter job, something he found particularly galling since he thought he would be competing for a higher spot in the rotation.
"[Hideo] Nomo and me, we were the only guys who won 13 games last year," he said. "Nobody here won more games than we did. I don't think I really deserve to be in this situation. I was thinking No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, whatever, you know? But to come here to compete for the No. 5 spot? I'm kind of upset. They weren't straight with me."
Strange stat of the week
When the Phillies played the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-3 tie on Thursday, it was their fourth tie of the exhibition season. That's one more tie in March then the NHL's Flyers.
Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.