Unsurprisingly, Mike Lowell was sore today. The question now is whether Lowell's hip has suffered more damage that would prevent him from helping the Red Sox the balance of the way.
Prior to tonight's series finale between the Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, Lowell met with manager Terry Francona on a pair of occasions in the visiting manager's office at Tropicana Field. Francona subsequently revealed that the Sox were sending results of Lowell's medical exams to a pair of specialists with the hope that Lowell would be able to return to the lineup this weekend in Toronto.
Lowell said he hopes to speak with the specialists via conference call tomorrow and was hoping to avoid a trip to see the doctors. Even if Lowell's hip injury has worsened some, doctors have assured him that treatment will remain unchanged (he will likely undergo surgery after the season) and that he will suffer not long-term ramifications. Lowell said he had expressed concerns to doctors about quality-of-life issues after his career, but was assured he was at no greater risk than anyone else.
For now, the question is whether the Sox can get him back on the field.
"The hard thing is, in the end, this is probably going to end up being what he can handle, and we've all seen he can handle a lot,'' Francona said when asked about the prognosis for his third baseman. "I think (Tuesday) night it got to the point where it became too much.''
With Lowell out of the lineup tonight, Kevin Youkilis will play third base and Sean Casey will start at first. Earlier this week, Francona also indicated he would have no reservations about playing Mark Kotsay at first base. At the moment, Kotsay is required in the outfield because the Sox are without J.D. Drew (back injury) and Jason Bay (in Boston for the birth of his second child).
Lowell spoke with reporters at some length about his latest hip problems, which stem from a torn labrum. Lowell said he believes he can continue to help the club even while hobbled, an assessment Francona has agreed with.
"He's on a pace to drive in about 90 runs, he plays a Gold Glove-caliber third base and he hits right in the middle of our lineup,'' said Francona, noting that Lowell is hindered most in his ability to run. "He [only] went from slow to slower.''
Adam Kilgore will have more on this story in a bit and, obviously, we'll have more in tomorrow's online and print editions.