NEW YORK -- Perhaps nothing will drive Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell back to active duty quicker than his disdain for being a spectator.

"I'm just antsy," said Lowell. "I can't chew any more gum or seeds. It's driving me nuts. I told [manager Terry Francona], 'When my days are over, don't sign me up as a backup.' I can't do it."

That said, it remains iffy that Lowell will come off the disabled list as soon as he is eligible on April 25.

"I think that's probably -- the odds are against it," Francona said. "I know he wants to be. We're not going to try to slow him down either. We just want to do the right thing."

The big thing is that Lowell is making progress from the left thumb sprain which occurred on April 9.

"I think it's coming along good," said Lowell. "We're moving it a lot more. I'd say the swelling is almost entirely gone. The grip strength is another issue. I think that's kind of what we're attacking now. In the beginning, it was icing, and getting circulation going and get the swelling out of there. We're doing a lot of movement drills to kind of get the strength, and I think that's going to be a process."

Lowell hopes that the next week is as productive as this past one.

"According to [trainers] Mike [Reinold] and Paul [Lessard], if the swelling goes, you recoup a little quicker," said Lowell. "We figure within eight or nine days, if the swelling has gone down this much, we can make the same progress and movement. We'll see. They haven't really given me a timetable. I'm kind in uncharted waters."

Much like the Red Sox, Lowell is not ready to make any proclamations about what date he might be able to return to the lineup.

"I don't know," Lowell said. "I think once I can pick up a bat and take swings, it might be the next day, or, according to them, it might be seven days. That's the part I really don't know. I figure I have to be able to swing off the tee before I do flips, before I took batting practice, before I'm in a game. That's what I think I'm anxious for, to be able to do that."