Mike Lowell's Injury Lessened by Timing, Depth

Nick PiccolinoCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 05:  Mike Lowell #25 of the Boston Red Sox breaks his bat against the New York Yankees in the eigth innig on May 5, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There is no such thing as a good DL stint (especially when it’s a former World Series MVP), but in this case, the silver lining can easily be seen.  Mike Lowell landed on the DL Tuesday, following his absence from the team after a pinch hit appearance Saturday, and an injection into his hip in Boston on Monday.  As strange as it may sound, this may be the ideal time for this DL stint to happen.

Looking at his month-by-month stats thus far, April and May are very similar stat-wise, followed by a significant drop off in every category (including games played) in June.  Lowell missed six of ten games leading up to his placement on the disabled list, garnering only one hit during that time.  One could argue that this is a case of Terry Francona “running Lowell into the ground.”

However, taking into account Lowell’s ability to lead by example coupled with his fierce competitiveness (as well as Francona’s staunch support of his veteran players), one could assume Lowell would rather grind his way through the injury and worry about the consequences later.

Going back to the original point, the timing is perfect in regards to how the next two weeks will play out.  On Jul. 13 All-Star Festivities begin, shutting the league down for a few days.

Boston also is one of the team’s who don’t start playing again until Thursday.  This gives Lowell a few more days to rehabilitate, extra days which are absolutely crucial for players at this point in the year.

With Jeff Bailey being called up in the interim, it can be surmised that Kevin Youkilis will be moved to third base with Bailey and Mark Kotsay splitting time at first base.  

This option would allow for Nick Green to continue playing at shortstop, where he has been invaluable to the team with Jed Lowrie’s injuries and Julio Lugo’s struggles.

Another option would be for Green to be moved to third, keeping Youkilis at first and putting Lugo at shortstop, allowing for him to prove his worth with full time at the position.  While a viable option, Lugo’s difficulties this season are a true detriment to the team.

Today’s heroics notwithstanding, Lugo truly is not an everyday player for this team.  He needs to maintain his position as a utility player, and assist the team in that way.

Based on the first two games since Lowell being placed on the DL, it seems as though Boston is going with the first option.  Bailey started against lefty Rich Hill on Tuesday, and Kotsay started against righty Brad Bergesen.  In limited playing time this season, both players have excellent splits against left and right-handed pitchers, respectively.

Ideally, this is not the situation the Red Sox wanted personnel-wise at this point in the season.  However, the fact that the team can survive an injury such as this (as well as the well documented struggles of other marquee players) speaks to smart moves in the offseason, shrewdly crafted deals, and excellent scouting.  Thanks to all of this, injuries such as the one to Mike Lowell can be worked through quite easily.

Good timing doesn’t hurt, either.