KANSAS CITY -- Mike Lowell, who has been relegated to the bench by the Red Sox this season, said before tonight's game that this will most likely be the final season of his career. Lowell's three-year contract, signed after the 2007 season, expires this offseason.
"This probably is my last year," Lowell said, in the clubhouse in Kansas City. "If this was the fourth year of my career, I would have choked everyone by now in the organization. Straight honest. I'm a much more mellow family man now."
Asked when he came to that conclusion, Lowell said that it happened three years ago, when he re-signed with the Sox, turning down an extra year with the Phillies.
"I have no qualms about it," he said. "My agent wanted to kill me for not taking a four-year deal. I said I don't know if I want to play four years, but I know if I sign a four-year contract I'm going to play four years.
"I try to look at the big picture. I see my family, I see where the age of my kids are at. They're both starting to go to school next year, all that good stuff. There's a lot of reasons for Dad to be there. Has this scenario maybe put baseball a little bit lower? I don't think so, but it grinds at you a little. That's where that mental challenge comes in."
Lowell is in the lineup today for the first time this season. He didn't start on Opening Day for the first time in his career, and has yet to see any action at all. He has appeared extremely frustrated through spring training, as he worked to come back from offseason thumb surgery and to continue to improve from hip surgery in the 2008 offseason.
Could anything change his mind?
"From playing next year?" he said. "Well, I'm not 100 percent sure. I would say I'm well up there. But, no, actually I would love for the last year of my career to be the best year of my career, if that would be the case. I don't think there's any better way of going out than on top. Why not?"
That seems unlikely to happen, unless the Sox find a trading partner for Lowell. There has been little interest in the third baseman through spring training.
"If I hit 30 home runs this year or I hit three, I don't think that stance is going to change," Lowell said. "Now whether I want to or not, that's totally different. But I don't think my numbers will determine [that]. I'm pretty confident in what I've done, physically what I'm capable of doing. Yeah, you can look at, oh, this is a walk year, the next contract. Doesn't even enter my mind.
"Because if it would [have happened], like I said in the fourth year of my career, I would have been the biggest jerk in spring training and tried to get my way out of here. Because why not put up numbers when you show basically for me at 60 or 75 percent I was capable of putting up respectable numbers. I've never proclaimed that I'm 100 percent right now, but I'm much better than last year. I've said that since Day One."