Mike Lowell Doing Best to Keep Open Mind in Reserve Role

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April 11, 2010

Mike Lowell Doing Best to Keep Open Mind in Reserve Role It's often been said that Mike Lowell will someday make a great coach or manager in the major leagues. Perhaps that day is not too far off.

In the hours before his first start of the 2010 season Saturday night in Kansas City, Lowell indicated that this could be his last year in the majors, telling reporters that he may not seek a new contract when his current one expires at the end of the campaign.

The 36-year-old's transition into a reserve role has looked a bit painful at times this spring, with his lack of a smile notable. Unless he finds a full-time role with another team or somehow cracks the starting lineup with the Sox, it could be a difficult final season in Boston.

Lowell, who was nearly traded to Texas this offseason before the swap was nullified when he failed a physical, is straining to find perspective.

"I try to look at the big picture," Lowell told reporters Saturday. "I see my family, I see where the age of my kids are at. They're both starting to go to school next year, all that good stuff. There's a lot of reasons for dad to be there. Has this scenario maybe put baseball a little bit lower? I don't think so, but it grinds at you a little. That's where that mental challenge comes in."

Lowell admitted that if he was younger he would have a different reaction to his situation, but that he has mellowed over the years.

He has also produced.

In his four years in Boston, Lowell has hit .295 with an average of 19 home runs and 87 RBIs. He feels he can still produce at that level, but the road to a full-time role is blocked by Adrian Beltre at third base and David Ortiz at designated hitter, much to the chagrin of some fans.

That leaves the 2007 World Series MVP with a tough pill to swallow, and Saturday's comments indicated that Lowell's maturity is all that's keeping him from lashing out.

"Because if it would [have happened], like I said in the fourth year of my career, I would have been the biggest jerk in spring training and tried to get my way out of here," he said.

Lowell's legacy in Boston is safe (the ovation he received when introduced Opening Day said as much), but his demeanor has been a different one all spring.

He has been much more silent than in years past and has appeared frustrated with his role at times. Playing once every five games or so would leave Lowell with the lowest amount of playing time since 1999, when he appeared in 97 games as a rookie with Florida.

That's not to say he doesn't hold out hope for a grand finale.

"I would love for the last year of my career to be the best year of my career, if that would be the case," said Lowell, who indicated he has thought about retiring after 2010 for years. "I don't think there's any better way of going out than on top. Why not?"

Unless something changes, that's a question Lowell may not get an answer to anytime soon.

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