Lowrie had a very successful five-game rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket, going 7-for-17 (.412) with four doubles. He also managed to make a few diving plays in the field, giving his recovering left shoulder a good trial run.
That physical aspect of the rehab is more important than anything else to the versatile infielder.
"Hits give you confidence no matter where they are, but I wasn't going to base my rehab on the performance," Lowrie said. "It was how I felt and how I progressed. The hits are always nice, but it's not what you base your rehab on.
"Dove a couple of times down there, didn't have any issues. I'm not going to hold anything back [when I return]."
This process of returning from a physical issue is nothing new to Lowrie. There were wrist ailments that curbed his 2009 campaign and the difficult bout with mononucleosis that delayed the start of his 2010 season. While he was not able to offer too much down the stretch in '09, Lowrie was on fire at the plate after his mono cleared last season, a surge he carried into 2011 before a collision with Carl Crawford caused the shoulder injury.
He feels that the experience of going through rehab before, and thriving upon its completion, will bode well for him over the final eight weeks of the season.
"I think I've proven time and again that I can get back up after being knocked down," he said. "I think having that experience helps."
Although he missed having Lowrie's versatility for the past eight weeks or so, Francona is pleased with how it all played out, knowing what the return on the team's patience can be.
"Jed has proven when he's healthy, he's a really good hitter," Francona said. "When he's not, that's when he makes outs. So I think it's good that we kind of took the slower route and got him healthy because he can really help us."
Lowrie took a few games to get going when he came back near the end of July 2010. But he picked it up in August, batting .304 with a .971 OPS before hitting five home runs and driving in 13 runs in September. That surge, coupled with some ailments for Marco Scutaro, prompted a shift in playing time at shortstop in favor of Lowrie.
The same scenario played out in April of this year when Lowrie hit .368 with power and basically supplanted the veteran Scutaro, who eventually went on the disabled list anyway with an oblique strain.
So, will it happen again? For Francona, it's much too early to speculate on such matters. One should expect more of a time share to start.
"I think it will do [Scutaro] some good," Francona added. "I know he doesn't like to hear that because he wants to play every day, but I think it will be good for him when he's not. We can kind of split it up.
"Jed's not ready to be out there every day, we can look at day-game, night-game matchups, hopefully get the most out of both of them.
"Normally those things kind of take care of themselves. The way Jed played early in the season, it was hard not to play him. I don't know if it really matters what I say in advance. Think it just depends on how these guys play."
The Red Sox will announce a corresponding move either late Sunday or Monday after checking in at Target Field.