Lofton, who injured his shoulder while diving into first base during Game 5 of the AL playoffs against Boston, visited famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews after Indians team orthopedist Lou Keppler discovered the tear.
"It looks like Andrews agreed with Keppler in that there's a tear in the cuff," Indians general manager John Hart said Tuesday night. "Most likely, surgery will be required. But it will not be immediately. We still need to get a point where there's a little more flexibility in the shoulder first.
"We are hoping for next week. Kenny is taking this pretty tough, so he hasn't decided who will do the operation."
Hart said he expects Lofton to return next season, but maybe not until the All-Star break.
"I think it will be done with an arthroscope," Hart said. "But it will be five months minimum. Optimistically, Kenny can be back in mid-May. Realistically, it will be mid-June or at the All-Star break at the outside."
With Lofton sidelined, the Indians would have to find both a centerfielder and leadoff hitter.
The Indians could use a platoon of Jacob Cruz and Dave Roberts in center or sign a free agent. Among the players currently available are Tom Goodwin and Brian McRae.
Cruz batted .330 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 88 at-bats for the Indians last season. He was doing a nice job filling in before tearing a ligament in his right thumb sliding into second base in August.
Roberts, who has better speed than Cruz, batted .238 with 12 RBI in 143 at-bats, and stole 11 bases in 14 attempts.
"We're very fortunate that we have depth in an area where we have an injury," Hart said.