BOSTON — With his team in first place and playing its best baseball, Red Sox manager Terry Francona does not have many concerns over personnel.
But when he saw Mike Lowell in the clubhouse Friday afternoon, he had to wonder what the former third baseman could bring to the team.
"He looks good," Francona said. "He looks like he's moving around better now than he was before."
Lowell is in town for a few days and spent some time catching up with old teammates. It was his first appearance in the clubhouse since the second-to-last day of the 2010 season, when he finished his playing career with a 2-for-2 effort against the New York Yankees, the team that drafted Lowell and gave him his start.
The 37-year-old Lowell finished a frustrating year in which he played sparingly and was bothered by physical issues with a .239 average and five home runs in 73 games. Still, he gave the fans who adored him some wonderful moments down the stretch.
There was the Aug. 3 game against Cleveland where he returned from a layoff of more than 40 days and hammered the first pitch he saw for a home run. That moment, coupled with the passing of the trade deadline and the eventual season-ending injury to Kevin Youkilis allowed Lowell to remain a Red Sox to the end. He was heavily involved in trade speculation at the time.
By staying with the team, Lowell was able to enjoy a touching tribute to the 2007 World Series MVP prior to his final game.
During that ceremony, Lowell uttered these words: "I'm kind of at a loss for words to kind of explain the emotions I've felt over the last five years with respect to the support and the positive responses I've gotten from Red Sox fans. I think it's your passion and your knowledge for baseball that I'll truly miss, but I don?t think I'll ever forget."
Nobody will, but with Lowell in town again, the memories came flooding back.