Mike Lowell's locker sits smack dab in the middle of a flank of 11 along one wall of the Red Sox' clubhouse. Five players, including Dustin Pedroia, are to one side. Five others, including Kevin Youkilis, are to the other. Lowell is truly in the center of it all.
Strange, then, that he was the odd man out all season long. Until Tuesday.
With the injury to Youkilis, a wild four-day stretch for Lowell sees him brought back from roster limbo and plugged into first base, a position he will hold down for the majority of the time Youkilis is out, which could be the rest of the season if he requires surgery.
How often Lowell plays depends on the condition of his troublesome right hip. He himself has said he is not an everyday player, and guys like Victor Martinez and Jed Lowrie will get their fair share of starts at first.
Lowell's used to battling to get in the lineup.
As he has said throughout the season, the only positions that have remained healthy are those he can play — first base, third base and designated hitter. Even after he crushed Triple-A pitching in a short rehab stint last month, he was kept on the sidelines until the trade deadline passed, his name one of those being shopped by the organization.
"It's very hard to swallow that the team you played for and gave everything you got [was trying to trade you]," Lowell said before Tuesday's game, which saw him hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw. "That was hard."
Lowell was on the verge of being shipped to the New York Yankees as part of a three-team deal that also involved Texas. General manager Theo Epstein did not indicate which team the club was close to trading him to, but did say that "there was one team that had a fit for him".
Crazy what a couple of days can do. The trade fell through, Youkilis got hurt two days later and Lowell will now be relied upon to fill an almost unfillable role.
"I believe he's our best hitter," Lowell said of Youkilis. "He's been our most consistent hitter and arguably in the last three years one of the best hitters in the game. Like I said, when Kevin Youkilis is not on your team, you're not better."
That's a roundabout way of saying Youkilis will be missed. But Lowell has taken a roundabout way to finding himself in the middle of a potentially season-saving stretch for the Sox.
Strange how things work out. Even when you're in the middle of the action all along.