Lowe downplays displays of emotion

BOSTON -- Derek Lowe, pull up a couch.

Mired in a slump that shows in his face as much as his stats,
the Red Sox right-hander called reporters to his locker before
Thursday's game against Oakland to ask why his struggles are pinned
on mental shortcomings instead of just poor pitching.

"Why is it when I pitch bad, I'm a mental reject. When
everybody else pitches bad, they just pitched bad?" he asked the
group of about two dozen reporters.

He harshly criticized his performance on the mound, but said it was a problem with mechanics, not his mind.

As exuberant as he can be after a key strikeout, Lowe is also
known to hang his head when something goes wrong. And things have
been going wrong a lot this year.

A future free agent with a no-hitter on his resume, Lowe is 6-8 with a 6.02 ERA this season. He has allowed 17 earned runs in his
last three starts for an 0-3 record and 9.37 ERA.

While admitting he has pitched awfully, what has bothered Lowe is the way fans and reporters -- and his last four managers --
believe he gets so upset when things go wrong that he allows his
problems to snowball.

He appeared to be cruising against the Braves on Sunday before an infield hit was followed by a four-pitch walk and soon four
consecutive hits, including a homer that chased him from the game.

"That tag has been put on me. But when I do have success, is it luck?" Lowe said.

"That's me. It doesn't affect the next pitch," he said,
referring to the way he shows emotion on the mound. "I know
myself. It doesn't affect the next pitch."

The Red Sox acquired Lowe from Seattle in 1997 and have used him in every possible pitching role. He led the AL with 42 saves in 2000. As a starter in '02, he went 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA and a
no-hitter, finishing second in the AL ERA race and third in Cy
Young balloting.

So, when Lowe said he's had success he's not bragging.

But he's also struggled mightily, including a 5-10 record in
2001 and his current slump.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the team was not considering pulling Lowe from the rotation. Instead, they will try to use him even more.

"We need him to pitch good," said Francona, who met with Lowe earlier in the week to express his confidence in the struggling
right-hander. "That's what we told him."