BOSTON — For the first time in a long time, the trade deadline is one day away and the Red Sox have better things to think about.
The team is still recovering from a barrage of injuries that began last month, and now, with plenty of starters still en route to recovery, Boston’s roster is anything but settled.
That leaves Mike Lowell in a strange position, but he’s become accustomed to that this season.
Lowell was placed on the disabled list on June 24 (retroactive to June 23) with a strained right hip, and after breezing through his rehab assignment with flying colors — he homered three times with Pawtucket on Tuesday and batted .500 in five games — he seems to be ready to return to action. The rumor was that he would return for Friday’s series opener against Detroit, but according to manager Terry Francona, things could take a few extra days to shake out.
Why? The trade deadline. It always comes back to that.
When asked whether Lowell would be activated for Friday’s game, the manager approached his response with caution. He did not indicate that the veteran third baseman would be traded, but he did not rule it out, either. Francona did, however, make it clear that it makes more sense for the Red Sox to wait out any possible deadline-induced roster changes before activating anyone — Lowell included.
Earlier this week, general manager Theo Epstein talked with Lowell’s agents about the decision to hold off on a roster move until after 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"[Epstein] just kind of told him to hang on for a day or so," Francona said before Friday’s game. "There's possible movement. You know, the deadline is [Saturday]. It just seems to make sense to kind of get through another day or two, and then do what we need to do."
In comparison to years past, this has been a relatively quiet trade deadline for Boston. Just like any other team, the Red Sox have been the subject of plenty of rumors, but there’s not a strong sense that any big moves are going to come before Saturday’s game. Perhaps that can be attributed to the constant lineup shuffling that has come as the result of injuries, but that’s not something Francona pays attention to — unless Epstein gives him a reason to.
"The trade deadline's going to come and go, regardless of where we're playing," Francona said. "Whether it's the West Coast or the East Coast, that doesn't matter. I know Theo and those guys are down there working, and if he thinks he can make us better while making sense, he'll do it. I'm confident in that."
Francona, just like Lowell, will have to be patient. He’ll have to wait and see, then proceed with whatever players are still on the roster Saturday night. And that’s just fine with him. Whatever moves Epstein makes or doesn’t make will be the best ones for the club.
"I think [Epstein] does a good job of keeping track of the present and the future," Francona said. "Sometimes, when you're in uniform, all you care about is today. I try not to have conversations with him where he feels pressure from me to do something that would hinder our future."