Lowell, Drew in starting lineup
Third baseman, outfielder show no setbacks from workout
ANAHEIM -- It was the type of lineup that would have felt like a reach as recently as a few days ago. But it was one that Red Sox manager Terry Francona happily deployed for Wednesday night's Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Angels.
Not only were third baseman Mike Lowell (one at-bat since Sept. 16) and right fielder J.D. Drew (four at-bats since Aug. 17) both on the roster, they were both in the starting nine.
Drew occupied the No. 5 spot in the batting order. Lowell, who has a partial tear of the labrum in his right hip, batted seventh, a couple of spots lower than usual. The placement was to cover for the possibility he might have to be replaced at some point during the game. Still, it was a most positive development that he could play.
The Red Sox were a bit surprised by how well Lowell did during Tuesday's workout.
"He did everything on the field," Francona said. "Then he went out and ran later. Again now, he's not going to be in the Olympics. He wasn't before and he's not now. But I think we felt like it was good enough to give it a pretty good effort. If he can play third and be healthy enough to play, we can keep [Kevin Youkilis] at first. [Lowell] was the MVP of the World Series. He's a good ballplayer. If, for some reason, it didn't work, it's not as devastating as it might look."
What Francona was referring to was the versatility of the Boston roster. Mark Kotsay or Sean Casey could fill in at first, with Youkilis moving across the diamond. Another option would be for shortstop Jed Lowrie to move to third and Alex Cora to come in and play short.
Whatever the case, Francona made it clear how much he appreciated Lowell's willingness to put the team first and make himself available.
"His makeup is so good that I think it's allowing him to be on the field when I'm sure a lot of other people wouldn't be able to," Francona said. "He's a little special in that I don't know how many people would be trying to play in this situation, and not only trying, but probably going to be able to pull it off and help us win. That's the whole idea."
Francona didn't seem particularly worried about the pesky Angels trying to expose Lowell's lack of mobility by bunting.
"They bunt anyway," Francona said. "These guys, we know who bunts, and Mikey is one of the better third basemen in the league. If he needs to play a step shallower, he can. You can get so caught up into trying to undo the other team. It's hard to do things differently than you're accustomed to during the year. If they want to send [Mark] Teixeira out there and let him test out Mikey, or Vlad [Guerrero], please, I hope they do."
As for Drew, he has made considerable improvement over the past few days, just as it seemed as if he was ready to lose hope.
"He says he feels pretty good physically," Francona said. "His presence in the lineup is significant. With the days off in between games, I think we're OK. I think J.D. had probably his best day in a while yesterday, so that's really good."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.