Lowell in limbo, but not worried
Erstwhile Red Sox starting third baseman Mike Lowell reported to camp on Tuesday with, well, the Red Sox.
Adrian Beltre is obviously the team’s starting third baseman, leaving Lowell in a strange spot. But Lowell is as practical as any player in the Majors, and has no bitterness about his situation. As pictured below by photographer Brita Meng Outzen, Lowell is taking his situation in stride.
Is it a “dicey” situation, asked intrepid radio reporter Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio? “
“Dicey as your articles want to be, I guess. It’s strange in the sense that I thought I was going to Texas, yeah that was a little different. I think I’ve been in some rumors before and I think when you’re going on a plane going to Texas it’s a little closer than most times. I realize I really can’t control that so I really haven’t sweated it that much. I was really concentrating on the health aspect. I’m looking at this spring basically like I’ve done the last 14 years. I hang my hat on [the fact] that I’m healthier at this point in the spring than I was last year and I felt I did a pretty good job when I was in there. I felt last year was the struggle. I think trying to overcome a lot when I basically hadn’t even jogged one time by the time I reported last year. Yeah, it’s definitely weird when you might be going somewhere else and all of that doesn’t pan out, but I guess that’s the way it goes.”
His approach overall: “I’m getting ready for a season. I think I’m pretty intelligent in the sense that there’s no real playing time for me here barring a major injury and I’m not really in the business of hoping somebody gets hurt just so I can get at-bats. For me I’m feeling like I’m more prepared and ready for a full season more than I was last year so why shouldn’t I play more than I did last year whether it’s here or somewhere else. I really can’t control that. I have to separate two things, I think there’s the baseball aspect of it and I think there’s the real-life aspect of it. I’m very comfortable in where I am in my real life. I feel like I’m in a tremendously privileged situation. Nobody needs to feel sorry for me in life. Is my baseball situation not ideal? Yeah, it’s not ideal. I don’t want to diminish the baseball fact, but you never know what can happen. When I left the Marlins I was disappointed and it turned out to be a really good transition for me. We’ll see. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Expect to be traded? “To some degree, absolutely. If I was on the trading block before I can’t imagine that all of a sudden I’m not now. I think my health is obviously something I need to show not only the Red Sox but every other team. If that opens the door to something else, I’ll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay.”
The intrepid Miller asks Lowell to give a retrospective on his time in Boston: “I’m not dead Jonny. I have a lot of good memories but that doesn’t mean it’s over.”
Meeting with Theo at camp? “It was very status quo. We basically could have gone without the meeting and I think I pretty much knew where I stood and knew the way I feel.”
Bench role? “I’ve never been approached to say that’s in their plans. Like I said, if I’m definitely healthier at this point than I was last year I don’t see why I should have less at-bats.”
Open to playing first? “I don’t think it hurts to show the fact I can play another position. I don’t think that ever hurts. Whether that means I’m more versatile here in Boston or somewhere else … I can’t say Hey, I want to stay, Hey I want to play, or Hey, I want to go. None of those three things are really a factor so I leave it to those people who make those decisions and you guys will question if it’s a good decision or not.”
Disappointed team doesn’t want him back as starting 3B? “I don’t think it matters what I feel about that. I know they’re trying to go in a direction where they think the team is better. The player always take a back seat to those decisions. I don’t really feel like I win out in any way saying, what a great decision that was, or this was a poor decision. I’m highly motivated to show that I can play. Where that takes me, I don’t know. I really don’t. we’ll see. There’s some type of curiosity that I have – I’m anxious to see what happens.”
Regret not going to the Phillies for a four year deal after ’08? “No, no. I might have signed with Philadelphia and gone on a spelunking trip and gotten hurt and that’s against our contracts, so they might have voided the last three years. You never know. They have great caves in Philly so, no, I don’t. I enjoyed Boston. At that point, I was delighted to sign back. We had a competitive team and came within a game of going to the World Series the next year. How could you say that was a bad decision?” — BTW, that was classic Lowell about the spelunking. This guy just gets it.
State of the hip? “Yeah, there’s some discomfort when I run. I don’t feel any pain when I take those first few steps. I think defensively I would feel very comfortable moving around. I felt like I lost a little explosion on the first step, especially going to my left. That’s kind of where I push off with my right hip. But again, I think last offseason, I didn’t have any time to get strength. I think I basically played the whole year in a weakened state, because of the surgery obviously, I think I’ve gone to a point beyond that where that’s not an issue for me right now. is it like I was in ’07? No, there’s still some discomfort running. I’m not Jacoby. I don’t think the running aspect has really been a major issue to any baseball evaluator.”
When will he be game ready? “Our first game is March 3, which is about a week away – I think if I had to play in that game, I could do it easily. But I think we’ll probably take it slow. So that’s why I say I might be four or five days behind. There was a struggle to swing the bat, when the doc said, hey, just start feeling it. I could feel the tightness and still the swelling in my thumb, and I don’t feel that now. So I think now it’s just increasing the strength a little bit to be able to handle the impact of a ball hitting it. I’ve only done tee work so It’ll be a progression of the toss, and then it’ll be batting practice outside, and once you can do batting practice outside, I don’t view the game as a major step. I actually almost want to get jammed to test it out, but I don’t know how you practice that.”
How disppointed was he when the Texas deal didn’t go down? “I looked at the Texas thing, honestly when I was on the plane flying to Texas as a pretty good challenge. I thought that team did a lot of good things last year. they were in it basically until the end. It was more, the way at least I viewed it, is I would probably DH a lot and play first a lot and if Michael Young needed a DH, I would probably play third for just a hand full of games so I didn’t have a problem with that. I didn’t see that as a bad situation. I thought that was a place where I could fit in the lineup there and I thought I could put up some numbers on a team I thought was going to be competitive so I wasn’t ashamed of going over there. I wasn’t disappointed that might be a possibility of where I landed. It didn’t go through, I was like, alright, it didn’t go through. I want to stress that I wasn’t stressed. I
really wasn’t. I think I get the grand scheme of things for me, like what I value and what I don’t. not that I don’t value baseball but I’m pretty confident I’m going to be in the big leagues this year somewhere and I still view that as a privilege to me. Like I said, no one needs to feel sorry for me for the situation of my life right now.”
Does Lowell expect to be with the Red Sox on Opening Day? “I have no idea. I really don’t.”
Has he thought about other teams that might need him? “Absolutely. I think that’s only human nature. Am I going to share that with you? Probably not.”