Back Pain Disables Indians Catcher Taubensee

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - Cleveland backup catcher Eddie Taubensee will miss at least the first two months of the season due to pain in his lower back.

Taubensee, 33, went to Los Angeles for a second opinion Thursday and Dr. Robert Watkins confirmed an earlier diagnosis by team physicians that surgery would not correct or improve two degenerative disks.

Taubensee had surgery on Sept. 8, 2000, to remove a disk that was pushing on his spinal cord. He battled a viral infection and shoulder problems last season, when he played in 52 games. He had a .250 batting average and threw out one of 29 base stealers.

In 10 major league seasons with Cleveland, Houston and Cincinnati, he has a .273 average.

Indians starting catcher Einar Diaz has a bruised left wrist, and No. 3 catcher Tim Laker is at home in California due to infections of his liver and pancreas.

Minor league catchers Josh Bard, Victor Martinez and Chris Coste have been seeing playing time during spring training.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)