Lowell Focusing On Rehab, Not Rumors
According to a story filed Saturday night by Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com, the Detroit Tigers are interested in possibly trading for Mike Lowell as a replacement for injured third baseman Brandon Inge.
According to a July 16th report from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Texas Rangers are still considering a deal for Lowell to give them a right-handed hitting compliment to Chris Davis at first base.
And according to Mike Lowell, he’s not paying attention to the latest trade rumors.
“In my first few years in the big leagues I followed it very closely because I think you believe everything that anyone says,” Lowell told me. “Right now, I don’t pay too much attention to it because it doesn’t change my plan. My focus is to feel good at the plate, and to be able to get back to the big leagues and contribute wherever I am. Do I think I can contribute more than what I’ve been used this year? Absolutely. If that entails being traded – like I said before, the beautiful thing about that is that I don’t have a no-trade clause and I can’t control where I go, so I literally choose not to worry about it. If it happens, it’s probably going to be to a team that wants to use me and is probably in a pretty good pennant race. But I can honestly say that I really don’t lose any sleep at night thinking about it.”
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
The Red Sox attempted to trade Lowell to Texas last December for catcher Max Ramirez but the deal fell through when the 36-year-old third baseman flunked his physical due to a torn ligament in his thumb.
Did that attempted trade scar his feelings for the Red Sox organization?
“I don’t think so,” Lowell said. “They are a business first and foremost. I think every major league team runs it like a business. Do I think some teams take the human element into account more than others? Sure – that’s just the nature of who runs it and their personalities. The Red Sox had the ability to not only take on my salary but Adrian Beltre’s salary and basically hope that they would get production out of one of the two guys and it’s worked out for them. I think if we were talking about 26 or 27 other major league teams that’s not even a question because most teams can’t handle that financial hit. I understand the business aspect. I don’t think I was too happy because I felt like in 2009 I played in pain or discomfort every single time I went out there, and I felt like my numbers were still respectable. But that’s human nature. I would not have opposed being traded. Look how good Texas is doing – they’re a great team and it looks like they have the potential to go deep into the playoffs.”
Whether Lowell stays in Boston or gets dealt, he has no desire to be a role player – now or in the future.
“Absolutely not – I’ll retire before I do that,” Lowell said. “I realize that winning and being able to put up consistent numbers satisfies me. To be a bench guy I think you need to be one of two things – I think you either need to be really fast or have above-average power, because you can get away with hitting .230 or .240 if you hit 10 or 12 home runs in limited at-bats. I’m neither one, and if I’m on a team I want to be playing. I don’t enjoy sitting and watching it. The role thing – once every 9 or 10 days – is not something that I look forward to or feel like I want to do.”
Lowell has appeared in three games on his rehab stint with Pawtucket, going 5-for-14 (.357) with 3 doubles. He’s expected to take Monday night off, before returning to action on Tuesday in Toledo.
“We have the next 4 or 5 days mapped out and I think with each at-bat I have been feeling better,” Lowell said. “I hadn’t seen live pitching in over a month so the ball tends to get on you pretty quickly. But once you realize the pace of live pitching and just get your foot down and get ready – I feel like my swing mechanically is pretty good, so it’s just a matter of the adjustments that you have to make during the course of a game.
Technically it’s a 20-day rehab stint, but Lowell says he expects to be activated by Boston this week. In the meantime, he’s enjoying his brief return to the minors.
“I look back on my time in the minor leagues as very positive,” Lowell said. “There’s a big picture for these guys and it’s not necessarily about winning and losing – the goal is to develop each player to see the highest level that he can get to. I don’t think anyone says when they are eight years old that, ‘I want to be a Triple-A player.’ Everyone wants to be in the big leagues. So I enjoy the intensity and being around guys that are hungry. Even at the big league level, the guys that remain hungry are the guys that are successful year after year. It’s fun to watch and I’m going to good places. In Pawtucket I got a tremendous response from the Red Sox fans there. When I played Triple-A it was here in Columbus, and my first Triple-A game was in Toledo so it brings back good memories.”
* * * * *
On Sunday, I witnessed something I had never seen before in professional baseball: A team singing “Happy Birthday” to its manager.
Prior to the game, I was sitting in the dugout with Torey Lovullo to tape a pre-game interview while the players were stretching in the outfield. Suddenly, all 30 guys approached (including the players who aren’t on the active roster) and they formed a semi-circle around us before serenading their skipper.
“That was pretty spectacular,” Lovullo said. “These players mean a lot to me and when they come out and return some of those feelings back to me it makes me feel pretty special. I was glad that they did that, but I told them, ‘Hey, for a grand finale it would be nice to get a win.’ That would be the perfect birthday present.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way for the 45-year-old manager as the Clippers beat the PawSox 5-4. Pawtucket will try to avoid a 4-game sweep in the final game of the series on Monday night at 7:05. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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