Derek Lowe is almost painfully nostalgic.
Of course, he’s earned the right to be. He’s back in Fenway Park in an opposing uniform for the first time since leaving Boston for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent after the 2004 season. Lowe spent eight seasons with the Sox, where he was a two-time All-Star and a postseason hero in ’04, winning the clinching game in all three playoff series.
So nostalgic — yep, that makes sense. But lost?
“I spent eight years here and I didn’t even know where the visitors’ clubhouse was,” Lowe said Friday night, just before his new team, the Atlanta Braves, dispatched of Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox, 8-2.
Aside from testing out the temporary new digs, he’s spending his time trying to get back in touch with Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, his two closest friends left from the 2004 championship team.
“You do as much as you can seeing people,” he said. “I texted both of them throughout the season. It’s hard to keep in touch during the season — you can’t go out to dinner with them or anything — but it’s good to catch up.”
Here’s how genuine Lowe is about missing Boston.
“Coming in here, you kind of get these old vibes that are fresh in your mind. We had a lot of good memories here, and I have a lot of fond memories of the players,” he said. “It’s a great place to play, too.”
Lowe attributes the chance to start against Josh Beckett Saturday to fate. The Braves had two rainouts earlier in the season, which put him in line to pitch in Fenway for the first time after four years with the Dodgers.
“I would’ve been disappointed not to pitch,” he said.
Lowe says he still tracks the Red Sox when he can — “I’m still a baseball fan,” he says — and if he plays other AL East teams, he still thinks about the ramifications for his former teammates.
“If they had saw my last start (7 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings),” said Lowe, “they wouldn’t be cheering for me then.”
And, as excited as he is about returning to Fenway, he still sees the danger in pitching against his former team.
“If you asked them what I’m gonna do tomorrow,” he said, “they could probably tell you.”