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Lowrie watching, waiting

Still no timetable on his return to action

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 25, 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jed Lowrie has burned through TV shows on iTunes with a speed that would make a couch potato blush. But the past few months have been even more tedious.

He has been able to do little, dropping 12 pounds because of mononucleosis, which was diagnosed in spring training. Yesterday, though, a shred of normalcy returned to Lowrie’s life. He joined his teammates at Tropicana Field, taking grounders and hitting in the batting cage with hitting instructor Dave Magadan.

“It was bad,’’ said Lowrie. “I’d sleep 12 hours a night and wake up tired. It wasn’t any fun. It’s taken awhile, and it’s going to take awhile to build back up, too. At first, I was sleeping so much that I would show up to the field and then go back and go to sleep. As I progressed, I was staying up a little more, but still lying on the couch and watching TV. I was pretty sedentary for a while. I spent too much money on iTunes. Anything to keep you sane.’’

Lowrie missed most of last season because of surgery on a left wrist injury that sapped him of his strength down the stretch in 2008. He had just 68 at-bats in 2009 and entered spring training hoping to make the team as a utility infielder.

“He looks a lot stronger than the last time we saw him,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He was looking a little weak the last time we saw him. He was walking kind of slow. Nice to see him looking stronger. It will be interesting to watch him out on the field, see how he’s moving around.’’

There is no timeline on when Lowrie will begin a rehab assignment. He’s still in Fort Myers working out, and his progress, Francona said, will be based solely on how he feels. The time off has given Lowrie the opportunity to work with head minor league athletic trainer Brad Pearson on getting his wrist stronger, something Lowrie said might be a silver lining.

“That’s one thing I’ve learned, through some frustration, is that there’s really no way to tell,’’ Lowrie said of how long he will be out. “It just depends on the person. I just know how I feel. It’s getting better, but I still have days here and there that it’s not good.’’

Lowrie knows he needs to have enough energy to be a full-time player before he returns. “I don’t want to be coming back and not have the energy to play every third day,’’ he said. “I just want to make sure all this is behind me. Everything I’ve been told is that I just have to go off my symptoms and see how I’m feeling. That’s the best I can do.

“I want to play baseball, and I want to be healthy. This is as frustrating as it gets, but I think the light at the end of the tunnel is knowing I’m going to play healthy.’’

Atchison recalled
The Sox added a pitcher to the bullpen at the expense of infielder Angel Sanchez, recalling Scott Atchison. Sanchez was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket. The Sox now have 12 pitchers on the active roster.

“Because of some of the length our starters gave us the last four or five days, we felt we could go through a National League city,’’ Francona said. “Now we’re back in American League baseball. It would be nice to have the arm.’’

Atchison was 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA for the PawSox since being optioned April 27. He had 15 strikeouts and four walks over 11 innings. He was even better in his last six outings, allowing one earned run over seven innings. With the Sox, Atchison was 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA.

“I think it’s a guy that we probably liked more than people realize anyway,’’ Francona said. “He’s been throwing in a lot of different situations. He’s a strike thrower. He’s got that cutter for lefties. I think we’re actually glad we could get him back. We like him. I think we think he can help us.’’

“Felt like I was throwing the ball well,’’ said Atchison, who didn’t know he was getting called up until yesterday at 10 a.m. “Hopefully I can carry that over, and bring it on up and throw like that up here. I feel good and feel strong.’’

McDonald designated
With Mike Cameron set to be activated, the Sox designated outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment. McDonald hit .263 with three homers and 11 RBIs over 31 games, starting 24. The Sox have 10 days in which to trade him, release him, or wait for him to pass through waivers.

Francona appeared upset about the move, though he said the organization had little choice.

“I hope for his sake, I hope somebody claims him,’’ Francona said. “I would be shocked if somebody doesn’t. I guess I hope for our sake they don’t. That’s what we told him. We had to do it. We were very appreciative of what he did for us. I hope his days in our uniform aren’t over. I have a feeling they will be.’’

The Sox were 4-9 when McDonald was called up from Pawtucket, and they are 25-21 now.

“Any time it’s hard, but I understand the situation,’’ McDonald said. “I’m appreciative to the opportunity I got here. I hope it has opened up some doors for me, maybe somewhere else. I had a good time here. Everybody treated me really well. It’s one of those things where I knew the guys were going to be coming back. I’m thankful for the opportunity.

“You never know. I could be back here. But obviously I want to be in the big leagues. Hopefully I showed some people that I can play in the big leagues, and get another chance to do that.’’

Road warrior
Clay Buchholz is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA on the road this season. Last year he was 5-2 with a 3.65 ERA away from Fenway . . . David Ortiz has eight home runs in May, tied for second in the AL with Vladimir Guerrero behind Toronto’s Jose Bautista (10) . . . Hideki Okajima retired six straight batters in the seventh and eighth innings. “He was huge,’’ Francona said. “We get in a position where that’s exactly what we wanted to have happen. He did such a good job, we were able to get two [innings of work].’’ . . . In the first All-Star voting results released yesterday, no member of the Red Sox led at any position. The closest was Dustin Pedroia, who trailed Robinson Cano at second base, 491,188 votes to 279,452 . . . Junichi Tazawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery last month, will join the Sox today. Francona said the pitcher is in the “normal range of motion’’ in his recovery. He won’t throw until four months after surgery and is in a period of necessary work Francona called “tedious.’’ . . . J.D. Drew said his hip flexor was still bothering him, though not enough to keep him out of the lineup. Asked if he might need a day off on the turf at Tropicana Field, he said he didn’t, unless it got worse. The Rays are throwing three righthanders against the Sox, so Francona would like to keep Drew in the lineup.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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