Lowell finds the Will to return to Red Sox

Lowell finds the Will to return to Red Sox
February 26, 2013, 2:15 pm
Share This Post

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This spring has been one long class reunion for the Red Sox.

First, Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez, returning to the organization as special assistants, offering their wisdom to young catchers and pitchers, respectively. Then, on Monday, Tim Wakefield worked with fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright.

And Tuesday morning, there was another familiar face back in a Boston uniform for the first time since he retired in 2010: Mike Lowell.

Former teammate Dustin Pedroia reached out to Lowell recently and asked him to come in and work with third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

"It's just something, we've been in touch with him over the past few days,'' said Middlebrooks. "He's in Miami, so he's close. I didn't want to pull him away from his family and his kids. I was like, 'Hey, if you get a chance.' Pedey and I had been talking to him, 'Come over, just talk about stuff.' He had a couple days, so he came by.''

"Pedroia mentioned to [Middlebrooks] that we had a good relationship turning double plays,'' said Lowell. "I'm not sure it's something he does wrong, but maybe something he wants to do better. I spoke to him a little this morning, spoke to [third base coach and infield instructor Brian] Butterfield. I think sometimes it might be something someone says that maybe triggers doing something mechancially a little better.

"He's very impressive when you see him. He has all the makings of being a tremendous player so I'm actually looking forward to it.''

Lowell also has plans to do some work with the Florida Marlins, for whom he played before being traded to the Red Sox after the 2005 season.

"I'm going to go up [to Jupiter],'' said Lowell. "[Marlins coach] Perry Hill said he would love me to go there and talk to some of the Latin guys and maybe express what he wants to say in a way that they can understand [better]. You never know. Maybe there's something I can say that puts them in a frame of mind that makes them a little more consistent.''

Lowell, who also does some work for MLB TV, watched Middlebrooks from afar and was impressed with the infielder's rookie season.

"I've always thought power kind of comes last,'' said Lowell. "But the sound off his bat is different -- not just from third basemen or young guys, but from major-league hitters. His physicality, he's such a big kid. I haven't been able to see him [defensively] as much, but I don't think there's anything on the field he can't do. And I really enjoy guys who want to get better.''

On Tuesday, the two focused mostly on improving Middlebrooks's angles and approach to the ball.
 

"At third,'' said Middlebrooks, "you got to lay it like 45-degree angles. A lot of times I get too flat, get a lot of in-between hops. So we're just working on my angles and staying down on the ball.''

When Lowell retired after 2010, he said he wasn't ready to commit himself full-time to coaching, preferring to spend more time with his young children. But in working with both the Red Sox and Marlins, he's slowly working his way back.

"I don't think my view's changed,'' said Lowell. "I think I would to manage or coach in that scenario. I don't fear putting in the time on the field when I'm ready for it. I'm genuinely excited to be here, but I still know, being here, just where my kids are in my life, I'm just not ready.''

Lowell joked that he was "so much more excited to be on a big-league field than making sure (a Little League) right fielder is looking at home plate and not throwing rocks at people walking into the park . . . There's a little different mindset.''

The idea of having recently retired Red Sox players return to help out is a sound one, according to Lowell.

"I think it's wise,'' said Lowell. "I don't think there's a catcher on the planet who can't learn something from 'Tek. Nothing against Jimmy [Rice] and Luis [Tiant], but they were relevant when I was young. You look at birth certificates (for young players) and you get '90s and late '80s and all that. So, a Varitek sticks in their mind a little more. Sometimes it's who's delivering might have a little more 'oomph.'

"I think guys can relate to other guys who have had success in this market, because [Boston] is unique. You can't play your whole career in Tampa Bay and know exactly what's it like to play in Boston every day. There is a [difference]. To gain knowledge from 'Tek, from Wake, guys like that who had success . . . it can't hurt. I think it can only help.''

"It's huge for me,'' said Middlebrooks of working with Lowell. "That's the guy who's won World Series, he's won Gold Gloves. That's what I want to do. Thatís what I'm here for. So any time I can get information from a guy  with that experience, it can help.''