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Lowe admits, 'This could be it'

11/2/2004 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- Jason Varitek peered into his locker then called
out: "We wearing our jerseys?''

Not on Saturday and, perhaps, never again for him, Pedro
Martinez and Derek Lowe -- all cornerstones of Boston's World Series
sweep and potential free agents.

Red Sox players donned dark blue sweatshirts with the words,
"World Series Champions'' before heading into the drizzle to board
amphibious "Duck Tour'' boats for their victory parade Saturday.

Many walked around the clubhouse taking home videos of
the scene. Others signed bats and balls.

After all, it could the last day they're all together as
teammates.

"This could be it,'' Lowe said, "But it's a special group.
People are going to remember guy's names on this team for a long
time.''

And the team's damp but devoted fans showed their gratitude at
the parade.

"It started raining and it was cold and the people didn't even
care,'' Lowe said. "They've waited a long time. You'll never see a
parade like that with so many people, no matter what sport or what
city.''

Three Boston players -- outfielder Gabe Kapler and pitchers Terry
Adams and Pedro Astacio -- already have declared free agency.
Thirteen others who are eligible have until Nov. 11 to decide
whether to test the market.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Martinez, postseason star Lowe
and clubhouse leader Varitek are the most important.

Martinez was one of the last players to arrive at Fenway Park
before the parade. He has a strong relationship with team owner
John Henry, but his agent, Fernando Cuza, has said it's too early
to discuss his future.

Lowe was the winning pitcher in all of Boston's clinching
victories in the playoffs after having a mediocre season and being
left out of the postseason rotation.

His bargaining position "is better now than it was before,''
Lowe said after the parade. "Any time you prove to people you can
pitch in October, it doesn't hurt.''

He doesn't know whether he'll sign rather than become a free
agent. But he and Varitek are represented by Scott Boras, who
rarely encourages his clients to accept less to stay with their
team.

Lowe and Varitek have both said they'd like to return, though
each is expected to become a free agent.

"My heart's here, so we'll see,'' Varitek said. "There's a few
things that are very important to this getting done and we have to
see how willing they are to get this done.''

With the team's first championship in 86 years and the parade
now part of history, general manager Theo Epstein will focus on
next season early this week.

One player who will be back is World Series MVP Manny Ramirez,
who is signed through 2008 with club options for two more years. He
joked about reports he'd heard that the New York Mets would like to
have him.

"Hey, they're going to trade me and Pedro for two clubhouse
guys,'' the playful Ramirez said.

Then he turned serious -- well, as serious as he can be.

"I want to end my career here, man. This is the place to be,''
Ramirez said. "I couldn't get any sleep last night. I went to bed
about 4 a.m. (excited about) the parade.''

It was an unusual two days after Boston's clinching 3-0 win in
Game 4 in St. Louis.

Lowe played golf on Friday and was "awful.''

"I shot an 88,'' he said.

Reliever Curtis Leskanic joked that he was "in a fetal position
in my room in disbelief of what just occurred.''

Johnny Pesky, an 85-year-old special assignment instructor who
played in the 1946 World Series with Boston, kept receiving
congratulatory phone calls.

"You'd think I was running for public office,'' he said.

Then it was time for the parade.

"Everybody's waiting for us to go out to celebrate with us,''
Ramirez said. "It's something special. We hope they don't give us
a (championship) ring from K-Mart.''

Martinez, Lowe and Varitek still may be wearing Red Sox jerseys
when the ring ceremony is held at the April 11 home opener, along
with the raising of the World Series banner.

Ramirez was surprised when told that the rival New York Yankees
will be the opponent that day.

"Really? Oh, my God. It's going to be crazy,'' he said. "It's
going to be unbelievable.''