Mike Lowell views spring as tryout
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell on Tuesday addressed his awkward situation with the team, saying he expected to be showcased for a possible trade this spring and had "no idea" which team he would be playing for on Opening Day.
My health is something that I obviously need to show to Red Sox and every other team. If that opens door to something else, I'll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay.” -- Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell
"I'm highly motivated to show I can play," Lowell told reporters at the Red Sox spring training complex. "Where that takes me, I don't know. We'll see."
Lowell, who is entering the final season of a three-year, $37.5 million contract, realizes he is a man without a position on the Red Sox after offseason thumb surgery derailed his trade to the Texas Rangers and Boston signed Adrian Beltre as his replacement at third base. He maintained Tuesday, however, that the uncertainty of his future wasn't something that was taxing him this offseason.
"I want to stress I wasn't stressed," Lowell said. "I really wasn't. I think I get the grand scheme of things for me, what I value and what I don't. Not that I don't value baseball but I'm pretty confident I'm going to be in the big leagues somewhere and I still view that as a privilege to me. No one needs to feel sorry for me, for the situation of my life right now."
Lowell said he viewed spring training as a tryout and that considered his recovery from a torn thumb ligament a minor issue. He has started swinging, is about a week away from taking batting practice and believes he could play in the first exhibition, but likely will be four or five days behind.
Lowell also said that his hip, which he had surgically repaired about a year and a half ago, was still an issue but was about "10 times stronger" than it was at this time last year.
"If I was on the trading block before, I can't imagine all of a sudden I'm not now," Lowell said. "My health is something that I obviously need to show to the Red Sox and every other team. If that opens the door to something else, I'll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay."
What about the possibility of staying with the Red Sox in a backup role?
"I've never been approached to say that's in their plans," Lowell said. "But like I said, if I'm definitely healthier at this point than last year, I don't know why I should have less at-bats."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said earlier in camp that he intends to work Lowell out at first base as well this spring, something Lowell said he is open to.
"I don't think it hurts to show the fact I can play another position," he said, "whether that means I'm more versatile here in Boston or somewhere else."
Francona admitted Tuesday that Lowell is in a difficult spot.
"To be perfectly honest it's not ideal," said Francona. "Mikey is a guy who has earned the respect not only of me and Theo [Epstein] but the fans and his teammates, so it's probably not ideal. You can't walk in today and tell him something. Adrian Beltre's here. That's the facts. But we have enough respect for Mikey that I think he will handle it and we will do our best to handle it correctly and with respect.
"But again, you just don't know what's going to happen. We've all been around this game enough where if you spend too much time worrying about things you can't control then somebody pulls a hammy. That's why it's better to just get ready for the season and then we'll make decisions."
The 35-year-old Lowell said he had a conversation with Epstein on Tuesday morning and understood his situation. He said he was not bitter toward either the Red Sox or Beltre and that he enjoyed his time in Boston if indeed these were his final days in a Red Sox uniform.
"I'm pretty set that all things were going to come to an end sooner or later," Lowell said. "I didn't think I was going to play forever. ... I really haven't stopped to think how I feel.
"Have I enjoyed Boston? Of course I enjoyed Boston. I never said I haven't. There still six weeks left in spring. Things happen, whether they go your way or not. Things have pretty much gone my way my whole career. I'll have no regrets whichever way things go."
Epstein said last 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 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."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.