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Lowell's surgery a success; Epstein speaks

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  October 20, 2008 04:50 PM

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Third baseman Mike Lowell's surgery this morning was "a complete success" and his doctors were "pleasantly surprised" with the condition of Lowell's labrum in his right hip, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said this afternoon.

Doctors removed two bony lesions and some tiny portions of the labrum in his hip. "It was a complete success, and they’ll start his recovery tomorrow," Epstein said. The recovery is expected to be 3-4 months, but it could be less than that, Epstein said. Doctors also released an abductor in his labrum, which has to do with his tendons. Epstein is confident Lowell will be back at full strength by the time spring training begins.

"I think today was a big day for that," Epstein said. "They finally got a look in there. They didn’t see anything that they didn’t expect. We’ll monitor the rehab and the recovery, but we expect Mike to be able to contribute right from the start."

Esptein also addressed other Red Sox offseason concerns, beginning with Jason Varitek, who is a free agent. Here's an overview, starting with his thoughts on Varitek:

“He’s an important part of the organization. There’s no doubt about that. Obviously, he’s coming off a year that wasn’t hit best. But he’s important nonetheless. He’s a free agent, and we’ll be talking to him. We have an obligation to explore all of our options. We have to do that. We do that with every position.

"There’s not a lot of elite catching out there. At the same time, that changes the standards from what you’re looking for. What we like to do is be league-average at least in every position, and then be above league-average at as many positions as we can. The state of catching shifts the target a little bit. What’s league-average? What’s above league-average? If we do our jobs well, we’ll be at least league-average at every position. It’s been well-documented there’s not a ton of catching out there. We’ll try to figure it out. "

  • Last offseason, the Red Sox' big splash was signing Sean Casey to a one-year contract. Epstein feels this is the way the Red Sox should run their organization, that being selective in free agency and reloading with the farm system is how best go about winning. He believes this offseason could be similar.

    “We’re at a point now where we have a very solid foundation in the organization," Epstein said. "We’re not just going out this winter to try to address the 2009 team and that’s it. Instead, a better way to look at is we’re continuing the process of building and evolving the organization, and the 2009 team comes to fore as the most important version of the Red Sox that we’ll have. But we’re also going to continue to look at 2010, 2011, 2012, etc. versions of the team. We’re building an organization. When he succeed at the major league level, because of the foundation that we’re trying to build as a whole organization, not just as a major league team.

    "We’re at a point now as an organization where we’re not desperate to improve in any one area. If you look at our starting pitching, if we bring back our starting corps and just make minor tweaks, I think we can be solid there. That said, is there an opportunity to potentially improve our starting pitching? Absolutely. We’re expecting to use a great deal of our time this winter trying to improve. If we just brought back our bullpen, would we have a pretty good bullpen? Yeah, I think it would be pretty darn good. That said, are we going to look to improve the ‘pen? Absolutely. We’re going to spend countless hours. Same thing if you look at our position player core.

    "We can bring back the same group in any one are and be solid and have all of our bases covered. We can now pick our spots and look for areas to improve. We can be selective shoppers in free agency. Last offseason was great, because we didn’t have to be desperate, because we had built up our organization to the point where there’s no desperation in free agency. I think that’s the same approach we’ll take this year. Being smart, finding value, and being selective -- maybe aggressive in some areas, but selective at the same time. And the same with the trade market. We don't feel like there's anything we have to do. There's a lot of opportunities out there. Maybe there'd be a fit out there.

    I can't give you one theme, 'This is what we need to improve.' I think we're pretty solid. But we need to get better, too. Looking at the caliber of play in our league and our division reinforces the notion that we have to always strive to improve. It'll be essential that we continue the process that we started several years ago of getting younger and more dynamic."

  • As for other Red Sox players in question, Mark Kotsay, Alex Cora, and Sean Casey are free agents, while Mike Timlin might retire. Cora and Casey said they would be more than pleased to return to the Red Sox, but also said the situation is uncertain. Kotsay was not in the clubhouse today, but he has said in the past he wants to play regularly and is a free agent for the first time. Epstein acknowledged openly that there may be "bigger and better things" for Kotsay next season, as far his role with another team. Timlin did not speak with the media. "Don't really have a lot to say," he said. Timlin seemed to sense a sort of finality in the locker room after Game 7, hugging his teammates one by one.

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