Lowell upbeat despite nagging injury
Red Sox third baseman aims to return to lineup Friday
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The fact that Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell was limping instead of walking around the clubhouse was a fairly obvious indication that he was going to be out of the lineup and unavailable for Wednesday night's finale of this three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
But Lowell, who is playing with a partial tear in the labrum of his right hip that became aggravated further when he had to make a barehanded play on a chopper on Tuesday night, did discover what he thought was some good news during his day of talking to doctors, trainers and club officials.
"The medical term is that they believe my labrum maybe popped in and out of the joint yesterday," said Lowell. "That's why it's kind of flared up today. I think that's good news because I asked again, I was on the phone with a lot of people today and I know [manager Terry Francona] and [general manager] Theo [Epstein] were as well, seeing if this could get worse. They really say that it can't. I look at that as a positive, but yeah, this morning was very uncomfortable when I woke up."
Lowell admitted to being worried when he woke up that it was going to be a longer-term injury.
"Yeah, absolutely," said Lowell. "It's easier when you wake up and you feel better. I was very stiff and that's when I needed to call the trainers and said, 'Could something have happened worse?' They made phone calls and basically told them, 'Not really.' That whole popping thing makes sense in that your body will flare up after that."
With a day off for the Red Sox on Thursday, it is Lowell's hope that he will be back in the lineup on Friday night for the start of a three-game series in Toronto.
As a veteran player who has already been a core member of two World Series-winning teams, this is the time of year Lowell wants to be on the field. If that means playing through pain, so be it.
"I think if we can make minor adjustments and we can still be productive, I think we would like to play," Lowell said. "I've never played wiffle ball in the backyard, saying this is a game in June. Usually you say this is a game [with the season] on the line. This is when you want to be in there. I'm hoping in two days, it will feel a lot better."
Francona met with Lowell multiple times in the hours leading up to Wednesday's game.
"His MRI [from last month] is going to a couple of different specialists," Francona said. "We talked to, I think everybody, from Theo to [Lowell's] agents to our medical people. The hard thing is, in the last part of our season, it's probably going to end up being what he can handle. We've all seen that he can handle a lot, but I think last night got to the point where it became too much and he woke up today very sore.
"I think there is some hope that soreness will leave in a hurry and then he can play and tolerate it. If that doesn't happen, it makes it difficult. You saw the way he was moving around. It was very difficult. Tomorrow afternoon, those things will be looked at and discussed."
Lowell has all but resigned himself to having surgery in the offseason.
"It doesn't sound too exciting," said Lowell. "Usually in the offseason I picture myself at the beach, playing with my kids in the pool. Not at a rehab."
Most importantly, Lowell has been assured there are no long-term ramifications to playing through the injury.
"I specifically asked [the doctor] after an MRI: 'If I hurt this more, am I going to need a hip replacement down the road?' He said, 'This has nothing to do with that.' I'm all for doing what I can do to be on the field, but I'm not in the mood to sacrifice my health later on in my life," said Lowell. "That was definitely a question I asked and definitely something they ruled out."
Though Lowell has mentioned a couple of times that he doesn't want to play if Francona views him as a hindrance, it's clear that isn't the case.
"He's on pace to drive in about 90 runs," said Francona. "He plays a Gold Glove-caliber third base, hits right in the middle of the order. He went from being slow to slower. He's a good player."
With Lowell out of the lineup, Francona started Kevin Youkilis at third base and Sean Casey at first.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.