On the field, the Boston Red Sox have had their struggles.
Off the field, it seems there are some problems as well.
In a time when the team is scuffling (19-20 record, losers of three straight, four of last five), veteran third baseman Mike Lowell found it an apt time to vent his frustration regarding the lack of playing time he has seen this season.
Lowell spoke with the media before tonight’s game against the New York Yankees, and admitted he’s become increasingly uneasy with his role — or lack there of — on the team.
“I literally eat up a roster spot,” said a frustrated Lowell. “I literally do. That’s the way it is.”
In light of DH David Ortiz’s May resurgence (.348 average with six home runs and 14 RBIs this month), manager Terry Francona has found it difficult to find days to insert Lowell into the lineup. Lowell admitted that he was happy for Ortiz, but recognized that Ortiz’ success is directly linked to his diminished role.
“David’s swinging the bat a lot better, which I’m actually happy for,” Lowell told clubhouse reporters. “I actually think he’s still a big presence in our lineup. I don’t really care what the numbers say. He’s that guy that you still fear that he doesn’t have to make really good contact and he can still hit the ball out of the park. As a friend and as a teammate, you don’t like to see those guys struggle. You just don’t. Obviously I think there’s a catch how it affects me.”
A few weeks ago, when Ortiz was struggling, Lowell saw a lot of action against left-handed starters. But with Ortiz now swinging the bat well, starts against lefties are far from assured for the 36-year-old, a fact evident in tonight’s lineup against tough lefty CC Sabathia — Ortiz will DH and bat sixth while Lowell again watches from the dugout.
Lowell went as far as to point out that he has contemplated asking the team for a release.
“Have I given it thought? Sure,” Lowell said. “I think that’s a normal train of thought to go through. Is that something that would happen? I don’t know.
“Sometimes you think, yeah, if that happens would that be better? I don’t know. But I don’t have a crystal ball.”
Lowell is still owed $12 million for the 2010 season. This hefty salary will make it hard for the Sox to trade him for any kind of value, and may make them reluctant to grant him a release and simply eat the $12 million. It seems this uneasy situation has no foreseeable, simple remedy. It’s an uncomfortable place for both the team and Lowell to be in, and comes at an unfortunate time given the on-field issues the club is dealing with.
Lowell talked a lot about what he didn’t know — how the situation will work itself out, if a release would be the best resolution, etc — but he wrapped up his comments with what he did know.
“I know I want to play baseball. I enjoy playing baseball,” Lowell said. “But I think that’s the element that’s a little bit out of my control. I just don’t see the role here.
“I know the situation here is just … I just don’t see it being very good.”
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