Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lowrie likely to start rehab stint next week

Shortstop Jed Lowrie "did really well" against live pitching in Lowell on Monday and Tuesday. Lowrie hit both lefthanded and righthanded against some of the team's recent draft picks, which meant he saw quite a few pitches out of the strike zone as well as quite a few pitches he could hit.

"(Lowrie saw) a lot of balls, which you can expect from young kids facing a major-league player," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "They're probably nervous."

The erratic pitching, though, probably helped Lowrie more than batting-practice pitching would have. He hasn't had to judge the strike zone since spring training.

"He's a smart enough kid to use it to his advantage," Francona said. "He said he felt a little rusty, and if he's going to feel rusty, that's a good place to have it."

Lowrie will fly to Fort Myers, Fla., tomorrow, and play in extended spring training games on Thursday and Friday. (The Gulf Coast League, a short-season league for newly signed draft picks, doesn't get going next Wednesday.) The informal nature of those extended spring games means he can jump in and out of the lineup to get some extra at-bats and speed up his trip back to the major leagues.

"He can hit nine, 10 times if he wants," Francona said, "and after two days down there, he'll be wanting to get out of there. Every once in a while, they'll throw a ball at your neck. ... He can take a bunch of grounders. He can lead off an inning. He can hit third. He can do a lot of things by design that we can't do once he starts getting into Triple-A games."

After that, he'll likely head for Pawtucket to get some real swings in real games. If he plays 10 days' worth of games with the PawSox -- Francona said a week "might be a little quick" -- he'd be ready to be activated right around July 1.

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