Mike Lowell has a lot on his mind these days.

There's the cortisone shot he will receive Monday in New York, the ensuing rehab stint at Pawtucket, his often fruitless search for playing time if and when he is healthy again and even what retirement will be like.

What happens to him at the July 31 trade deadline, however, is not a consideration.

"I don't know, I've heard talks but I've heard talks for eight months," Lowell said Saturday in the Red Sox clubhouse. "I have no idea. I don't know the situations other teams are in, whether it's a player, a need. I don't really care to know either. I think you'll drive yourself crazy trying to break down every team.

"I just want to be in a position where I can play."

Therein lies the issue.

When Lowell completes what figures to be a four- to six-game rehab stint, which would make him ready to go just days before the deadline, he will be hard-pressed to find a position that needs help. Such a situation could make him a tradeable commodity.

The 36-year-old had his first cortisone shot in his right hip before the season when he figured to get a start here and there at designated hitter or one of the corner infield spots. Those opportunities slowly disappeared as the season progressed, and when he gets the next shot, his road to playing time will be firmly blocked.

"At that time [of the first shot] I don't think my roster spot was of the utmost importance, almost to a certain degree less so now because third, first and DH are our healthy positions," he said.

If his playing time with the Red Sox continues to be limited and he is not picked up at the deadline or in a waiver-wire deal in August (Lowell sees that as far more likely: "I'm gonna clear waivers in two seconds," he said), then the veteran is eyeing a third shot in the offseason.

Whether that means Lowell plans to play in 2011 remains to be seen. He could use it to prepare for one more go-around, or he could use the pain relief just to enjoy life at home with the family.

That's what he did while rehabbing in Florida before and during the All-Star break, a period of time that made him think a bit more about his life after baseball.

"It gave me a glimpse of what retirement is all about," said Lowell, who is hitting .213 with two homers in 31 games this year. "Honestly, that's a chapter in my life I'm looking forward to. When it is I don't know, but I don't fear it.
"I don't view that as a negative either."

Lowell said the same about the cortisone shot, which will be the last step needed before he can ramp it back up and resume playing in games. Where those games will take place going forward is not on his mind.