Lowell not worrying after failed trade from Boston
AP Sports Writer
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – The cast Mike Lowell wore on his right thumb for six weeks is gone. The Red Sox uniform he’s worn the past four years might not be far behind.
The MVP of the 2007 World Series figures he’s still on the trading block after a deal to send him to the Texas Rangers fell through in December because he needed thumb surgery. So the third baseman is still with the team that tried to get rid of him.
“I want to stress that I wasn’t stressed,” he said Tuesday, one day before his 36th birthday.
Lowell knows he wouldn’t play much with Boston if everyone stays healthy. Adrian Beltre is the new third baseman after five years in Seattle. David Ortiz returns as designated hitter. And Kevin Youkilis hit .312 and .305 the past two seasons at first base, a position Lowell might start playing.
So he’s taking his odd situation in stride, knowing the Red Sox will be showcasing him for other teams to see if he’s healthy. He also knows there’s a possibility that he’ll stay put after the failed trade.
“It didn’t go through. I was like, ‘All right, it didn’t go through,”‘ Lowell said. “I’m pretty confident I’m going to be in the big leagues this year somewhere. And I still view that as a privilege. … No one needs to feel sorry for me.”
He was hurt on the last Friday of the regular season when he fouled a ball off his thumb. It wasn’t until December when he learned through an MRI exam that he had a torn ligament.
The recovery period after his surgery on Dec. 30 was put at eight weeks, an estimate that seems right on target. Lowell thinks he’ll be ready to play in next Wednesday’s spring training opener but knows he might be held back to make sure he’s ready.
He’s in much better shape than he was a year ago after offseason hip surgery, he said. He played with discomfort much of the year but still hit .290 with 17 homers and 75 RBIs in 119 games.
“I feel like I’m more prepared and ready for a full season than I was last year, so why shouldn’t I play more than I did last year, whether it’s here or somewhere else?” he said.
Lowell is widely respected around the league for his maturity and personality.
“He’s been a terrific player and a terrific teammate and a terrific person and we try to make decisions that we think are really best for the Red Sox,” manager Terry Francona said. “You don’t know where it’s going to lead. You really don’t.”
Lowell said he doesn’t have any gut feeling if he’ll be with Boston on opening day. But chances he’ll go to the Rangers diminished when they signed Vladimir Guerrero as their designated hitter, a role Lowell likely would have filled. Both hit right-handed.
Lowell even went to Texas for a physical. When the extent of the injury was learned, a proposed trade for catcher Max Ramirez fell apart. He felt playing for the Rangers, an improving team, was a good opportunity. He figured he’d play mostly as a DH and fill in at first and third.
“I’ve been in some (trade) rumors before,” he said. “When you’re on a plane going to Texas, it becomes a little closer than most times, but I realize that I really can’t control that so I really haven’t sweated that much.
“It’s not like I was sad to come back to Boston.”
Lowell was the throw-in when the Red Sox obtained pitcher Josh Beckett from Florida after he hit just .236 in 2005. But he had his best season in 2007, hitting .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs and leading the Red Sox to a World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
“When I left the Marlins, I was disappointed,” Lowell said, “and this turned out to be a really good transition for me.”
Now he’ll probably face a transition to another team after Boston’s first attempt to trade him failed.
“It’s a bad situation. You wouldn’t really wish that on anybody,” Beckett said. “He’s a really smart guy (who) knows how to handle situations like this.”
Lowell is owed $12 million in 2010, the final season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract, and the Red Sox had agreed to pay as much as $9 million of it in the proposed trade with Texas.
“I’m highly motivated to show that I can play,” Lowell said. “Where that takes me, I don’t know.”