Lowell hit by pitch, breaks left hand
MIAMI -- Florida Marlins All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell will miss the rest of the regular season after breaking his left hand Saturday night, an injury that could cripple the team's chances of staying atop the NL wild-card race.
Florida's cleanup hitter and clubhouse leader broke a bone in his hand when he was hit by a fastball from Montreal reliever Hector Almonte in the eighth inning. Lowell dropped to the ground in pain and was holding his wrist and hand as trainers escorted him off the field. X-rays revealed the break.
"It's a tough blow, but this is a good ballclub,'' Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "I think these guys will pick up the slack for Mike, battle the rest of the way and hope he's back for the playoffs.''
Team doctors said Lowell will miss about four weeks -- meaning he will be out for the rest of the regular season -- but he will see a hand specialist Sunday to better determine the severity of the injury and possible treatments.
"I know it's a freak thing, but I still feel like I'm letting the guys down,'' Lowell said. "We've got to grind it out and see what happens. ... We're going to move on. It's not like we're going to cancel the next 20 or so games.''
Lowell leads the Marlins with 32 home runs and 105 RBI and was batting .277. He has become one of the league's top defensive third basemen and one of the main reasons Florida was tied with Philadelphia for the wild-card spot.
"Anytime you take somebody out of the middle of the lineup, it's a crushing blow,'' Montreal outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. "But things happen. It's a pretty big loss for them.''
Without Lowell, McKeon said he likely would move left fielder Miguel Cabrera to third and use a platoon of players in the vacant outfield position. The manager said roster moves also might help fill the void.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves,'' McKeon said. "Somebody's got to pick up the slack. We've got plenty of options there. That's no problem.''
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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