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04/27/08 4:47 PM ET

Lowell eyes Tuesday return to Sox

After three rehab games, veteran feels no pain in his left thumb

BUFFALO -- Mike Lowell has passed the test.

Completing his planned three-game rehabilitation stint with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, the 34-year-old Lowell, who went 1-for-4 in Pawtucket's 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Bisons -- Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate -- on Sunday, is on pace for his expected return to the Boston lineup on Tuesday.

"I feel pretty good," said Lowell after Sunday's game. "I feel like I passed the test that they wanted me to pass, so I'm looking forward to getting back.

"I had expectations of being able to see the ball and seeing how my thumb would react from one day to the next."

On the disabled list since April 10, Lowell sprained his left thumb when he dove for a ground ball in the first inning of the Red Sox's 7-2 loss to the Tigers on April 9.

Occupying the role of designated hitter on Friday and Sunday, Lowell played all nine innings at his natural third-base position on Saturday.

On Saturday, Lowell was the key in turning a slick 5-4-3 double play that got Pawtucket out of the sixth inning without surrendering a run, but he did have one errant throw in the seventh that sailed over the head of Pawtucket first baseman Chad Spann, which allowed Bisons first baseman Jordan Brown to reach first base.

Wearing a protective thumb guard on his left hand to keep the joint in place, Lowell said he felt his natural rhythm of fielding and hitting when he resumed everyday baseball duties on Tuesday.

"After that first day of just playing catch, you're kind of hesitant to see how it feels," said Lowell, "and it felt pretty good after the first three or four balls that I caught.

"So I really wasn't anticipating ground balls being any different."

Lowell's lone hit of the day came in the third inning on Sunday, when he laced a single between and third and shortstop off a breaking ball from Bisons starter Brian Slocum.

Lowell went a combined 3-for-13 with three RBIs in his three games with Triple-A Pawtucket.

"He played three days without pain," said Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. "We all know he can play. It's just a matter that he got days in with no pain, so that's really, really good."

Lowell, the 2007 World Series MVP, said that he'd continue to wear the thumb guard on his left hand as a precautionary measure.

Dave Ricci is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.