Speaking publicly for the first time since the Boston Red Sox attempted to trade him and signed Adrian Beltre to replace him as the team's starting third baseman, Mike Lowell told WEEI.com he is focusing on getting himself prepared to play baseball and not on his uncertain future in Boston.
"I don't view this as a major challenge," said Lowell, whose offseason thumb surgery derailed his trade to the Texas Rangers. "If I'm healthy and teams out there think I can play every day, there's going to be a team that wants me to play. If that's beneficial to the Red Sox, I don't think any of this is contingent on whether it's beneficial to me. It doesn't matter. I have no say. But if it's beneficial to the Red Sox, then yeah, they'd make the move. And then you'd go wherever they send you. That's the thing. I can't say, 'Hey, I want to leave,' or, 'Hey, I want to stay.'
"It doesn't matter what I think or say. The only time I had that decision was after the World Series when I was a free agent. That's the only time that I had the say. After that, you're a product of the industry. I'm not sour about that. I'm cool with it. If you told me that I'd get traded and then they'd take away my contract, then I might have a much bigger issue with the way things are going."
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said earlier this week that Lowell's situation will "take care of itself" and that "Mike's priority is our priority, just to get him healthy, and until that happens, there's not much [to be done]."
Epstein said Lowell will not be ready to swing a bat when position players report and may need a couple of extra weeks as he recovers from thumb surgery. Lowell told WEEI.com he has been encouraged by his recovery and hoped to swing with contact in about a week. Lowell, who is also still recovering from hip surgery he underwent nearly two years ago, said he was healthier going into spring training than he was last season.
Epstein acknowledged that if Lowell showed he was healthy and productive in camp, it might be more likely he gets traded before Opening Day.
"If he's really impressive and impressive to other clubs, then maybe something can be worked out," Epstein said. "If not, I'm sure there's nowhere else Mike would prefer to take a lesser role than here."
Lowell did not rule out the possibility he could end up staying with the Red Sox this season, the last of a three-year, $37.5 million deal he signed after being named MVP of the 2007 World Series.
"Oh, yeah. I think there's a way," Lowell told WEEI.com by phone from his Miami-area home. "What I want and what will happen, I don't know that's something that's attainable. But anything can happen. Guys get hurt all the time. But I don't really want my playing time based upon whether someone gets hurt."