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07/11/09 6:58 PM ET

Lowell's hip progressing on schedule

Third baseman on track to return to action Friday in Toronto

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona hinted on Saturday that veteran third baseman Mike Lowell will likely return to the lineup next Friday, when Boston opens the second half of the season in Toronto with a three-game series against the Blue Jays.

Placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 30 with a strain in the surgically repaired hip, Lowell participated in baseball activities at Fenway Park before Friday's game against Kansas City. He repeated those exercises prior to Saturday's contest.

"[Lowell] had a real good day [on Friday]," Francona said prior to Lowell's work on Saturday. "He hit on the field, he did his defensive stuff and he ran. He was really pleased. We'll try to do the same thing [on Saturday]. He's not hitting on the field [Sunday], but he'll get up and have an active morning.

"Hopefully, we can send everybody on their way for the break, including him, knowing that we plan on activating him on Friday. That'd be the best-case scenario, and I think that's what we're looking for."

Francona said he will make a concerted effort to rest Lowell during the second half. After undergoing surgery on his hip in October, the 35-year-old batted .282 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs in 68 games this season before being sidelined.

"Looking back, I think there were some days when I should have interceded and said, 'Mike, you're not playing today,'" Francona said. "Saying that, he felt good, and to be honest with you, I don't know if it would have helped. When they feel good, sometimes I think you can get in the way of players by resting them when they don't need it.

"But now that we've gotten to this point, I'm not going to let him talk me into playing. There are a lot of days when I want to let a player talk me into playing him, but there'll be some forced days off in the second half, for sure."

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.