Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Sox might have a postseason utility guy

You don't have to wonder how badly Jed Lowrie wants to be part of the Red Sox roster in the postseason.

"That's why I'm here," he said. "That's why I've done everything I have up to this point. I want to be part of this. From everything I've been told, the only way my wrist is going to get better is with rest. If I didn't want to be here, I wouldn't."

The way Lowrie played on Wednesday -- assuming he still feels OK in the morning -- might be the most significant result from an otherwise totally meaningless blowout, a blowout so meaningless Rocco Baldelli played third base and Dusty Brown pitched.

(Sidebar: Brown felt right at home in the ninth inning: He was a closer at Yavapai Community College, his repertoire featuring a fastball in the low 90s and a slider, and he even blew a fastball past Randy Ruiz for his first career major-league strikeout.)

(Sidebar: Baldelli, on the other hand, was so out of place at third base he had to borrow a glove from Kevin Youkilis and a cup from Mike Lowell. But his technique wasn't awful: "On a foul ball into the stands, he had a quick jab step," Lowell said by way of critique. "His reactions looked good. I was actually hoping for him to get an easy, two-hop ground ball, but I think it's better that he didn't get anything.")

Lowrie, though, hit lefthanded in a major-league game for the first time since early August -- and he seemed to come through OK. Nothing else seemed to be an issue. He could hit righthanded. He could field. He could throw. He even could get dirty going to his left and to his right and come up making strong throws.

All he hadn't done, though, was hit lefthanded. It was a lefthanded checked swing that caused his first setback on Aug. 6, and it was another lefthanded checked swing that sidelined him for a week during his rehab stint at Triple-A Pawtucket.

He didn't check his swing against Halladay on Tuesday.

"The checked swing is something that aggravates it instantly," he said, "and the repetitive motion is something that builds up over time."

He couldn't deny a dull pain still lingers.

"It's more than just pain, too," he said. "It's that inflammation that comes into my wrist, and it's the same thing. But I am stronger. I'm able to take better swings. It's just a matter of fighting that inflammation. ...

"I can't say if there's more inflammation or less, but I know that it's there and I can feel it after I (have) three or four at-bats from the left side. Whether it's more than what was happening before, I can't tell you that, but it's there."

But it's something it seems he can play through -- and that gives him a leg up on Nick Green for a roster spot when the playoffs begin next week. He didn't get any hits but made a couple of athletic defensive plays at third base -- including a diving stop to rob catcher Rob Barajas of an extra-base hit in the fourth inning.

That actually was his third diving stop of the game. He didn't get enough strength or accuracy on his first two throws, though, to get outs.

"I felt pretty comfortable at third," he said. "The first throw got away from me just a touch, and I didn't quite get through it. The one that Vernon (Wells) hit down the line, I don't think I had a chance, anyway. That was fun. It was an opportunity to go out there and make some good plays."

His ability to play third base only increases his possible value to the Red Sox in the postseason. Should his wrist feel good in the morning, though, and should Nick Green not regain the lost strength in his leg, Lowrie might just sneak onto the 25-man playoff roster.

And by next season, knock on wood, he might just be 100 percent.

"Going into the offseason, if I do what I did last offseason, I think I'm going to feel like I did during spring training -- but have a structurally sound wrist as opposed to having a broken wrist," he said.


If you're interested in seeing your local Red Sox/Patriots reporter in action -- or, at least, sort of in action -- click here. Just to avoid any confusion, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and squirer of supermodels is the one on the left.

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