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February 26, 2007
Lowell happy to be back
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mike Lowell was an expensive throw-in coming off a mediocre season when the Red Sox took him so they also could get pitcher Josh Beckett from Florida.
Now the third baseman is a keeper.
After an offseason in which his name was mentioned in trade talks, Lowell is happy to be starting his second season with Boston, especially after the moves the team did make.
“I've been in a lot of rumors all the way through the minor leagues and in my career so I kind of take it as part of the business,” Lowell said. “I'm glad things worked out the way they did. I'm looking forward to a good season and we've got a really good team this year.”
In the trade before last season, Beckett was the big catch. The Marlins, unloading most of their high-priced players, also wanted the Red Sox to take Lowell and the $18 million in the remaining two years of his contract. Eager to get Beckett, Boston agreed.
Lowell was coming off his worst offensive season, a career-low .236 batting average with eight homers and 58 RBIs in 500 at-bats.
“He's not a dumb guy,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He knew. He heard everything about getting Beckett. I think he felt like he had a lot to prove. I don't think we felt that way.”
Lowell put up much better numbers last season — a .280 average, 20 homers and 80 RBIs. An outstanding fielder throughout his career, he made only six errors, his fewest in seven seasons.
“A guy like Mike, you get more than the numbers,” Francona said. “He plays the game correctly, every inning, every day. Hurt, not hurt. ... He's a pro's pro.”
Lowell expects to be more comfortable and play better this year after familiarizing himself with AL pitchers after seven seasons in the NL.
“At least I have some at-bats off guys like that,” he said. “It helps me and, hopefully with the team we've got, if we stay healthy, we have a very balanced lineup.”
The Red Sox began last season with three starting infielders in their first year with the team. Two of them, second baseman Mark Loretta and shortstop Alex Gonzalez, left after the season as free agents when the team showed little interest in retaining them. They've been replaced by Dustin Pedroia at second and Julio Lugo at shortstop.
“Lugo adds a little bit more offense than Alex does. I think Alex was a little bit more of a defensive wizard,” Lowell said. “I actually like the way Dustin swings the bat, but we'll see how quickly he can adjust.”
One player who wanted to be traded after the season is still with Boston.
Manny Ramirez has asked to be traded several times.
Lowell said Ramirez works very hard, is “one of the guys” on the team bus and continues to hit extremely well.
“He could eat four bananas and a slice of pizza before every game,” Lowell said. “If it makes him hit that way, you'll see a lot of guys eating four bananas and a slice of pizza.”
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:38 AM | Permalink
David Eckstein gives Sox farm team a boost
LOWELL, Mass. (AP) - When David Eckstein's first professional team decided to honor the diminutive World Series MVP, another bobblehead wouldn't do.
So the Lowell Spinners will give out stepstools with Eckstein's likeness to the first 1,500 fans on July 20 in honor of the 5-foot-7 infielder who led the St. Louis Cardinals to the championship last fall.
"I'm definitely a kid-type person. If you're short like me, it's useful," Eckstein said. "I thought I could use something like that at home too, and even at my locker so I can actually see what's on the top shelf instead of using a chair."
A Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, the Spinners have been on the cutting edge of minor-league promotions. Among them: a bobblehead for Beat Generation author and Lowell native Jack Kerouac, the world's largest game of "Duck, Duck, Goose," and an offer to swap Spinners jerseys for any New England youth team that wanted to shed the name of the dreaded Yankees.
When it came time to honor Eckstein, who began his professional career in Lowell in 1997, the Spinners wanted to make sure he wouldn't be offended.
"David's been a great sport," Spinners general manager Tim Bawmann said. "He might need a stepstool at his locker, but he certainly doesn't need any help on the baseball diamond."
The Spinners recently released other plans for 2007 promotions, including a "Dice-K" Fuzzy Dice Giveaway in honor of the Red Sox new pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 11:35 AM | Permalink
Update: Surprise! Manny's in camp
AP photo / Brita Meng Outzen
A fan asks Manny Ramirez for his autograph after Ramirez arrived at baseball spring training camp in Fort Myers, Fla.
Manny Ramirez unexpectedly reported to camp this morning, arriving early to undergo a physical. Escorted by agent Greg Genske, Ramirez came to camp three days ahead of schedule. Ramirez had informed the club -- first through teammate Julian Tavarez and later to the club directly -- that he would be reporting on March 1. According to the collective bargaining agreement, players can't be forced to report prior to tomorrow, Feb. 27.
Ramirez reportedly had been attending to his sick mother, who recently underwent a surgical procedure. Reports later surfaced that Ramirez was scheduled to appear at a classic car auction this past weekend in Atlantic City. It is believed that Ramirez canceled that scheduled apearance.
Today, Ramirez joked with a handful of teammates as he sat at his locker. Through a team spokesperson, Ramirez issued word that he did not intend to answer questions from the media. Genske is scheduled to speak to reporters later this morning.
We'll have more on this story as the day goes along.
--Journal Sports Writer Sean McAdam
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:10 AM | Permalink