Pregame interview with Mike Lowell
Lowell believes the Red Sox make every team play hard
I know you get asked this quite a bit, but considering this could be your last game as a Red Sox here at Fenway, can you just repeat again what your hopes are for next year in your pending free agency?
MIKE LOWELL: I'd rather not. I'm really focused on the World Series. I think the off season is the off season. I'll tackle that when it comes. But it's really the farthest thing from my mind right now. I think this Game Two is the most important thing that we should be thinking about personally and collectively.
What's the biggest challenge defensively playing in Coors Field especially when your team hasn't played there that much but you have? What can you tell me?
MIKE LOWELL: Weather wise when it's cold, your glove feels like it's a brick, so that's an adjustment. But I think it's a much bigger adjustment for the outfielders. There's a lot of room to roam there. Seems like their gaps are huge, and that ball seems to carry just a little bit more than in other parks. So for infielders I don't really see it as too much of an adjustment because of the thin air, but with the outfielders it's definitely going to be something where I think either in the workout or in batting practice before the game they'll be out there making sure that the way they judge the ball might affect them, but they can make those adjustments during the game.
Just with Beckett, with the October he's had, you've had the best seat in the house to watch him operate. Can you talk a little bit about what that's like to watch him pitch and do what he did last night?
MIKE LOWELL: I mean, not only last night. I mean, I was with him in '03, and I can't remember a bad start or a bad outing that he had. I think he had one bad inning in Game 1 against Chicago. I mean, I thought that was the best three week streak I saw any starting pitcher had that I've seen. He's doing some things that seem to rival that or even do a little better. You can say it's fun to watch because he's on our side, he's doing it for us, and I really don't want to be the guy facing him right now. But I don't know if it's his concentration level or whatever it is, but his execution is just so solid and so pinpoint, and it seems like he just goes through with his game plan almost to perfection. It's been tough for any team facing him, not only the Rockies but the Angels and Cleveland, as well.
You got a glimpse of the '98 Yankees, you were part of the World Series team in Florida, now here for two years. Where does this lineup compare to some of the lineups that you've witnessed or been a part of?
MIKE LOWELL: This lineup is much more formidable than the '03 Marlins in the sense that with the two guys in the middle, you have two guys in other teams are absolutely scared that they can hit the ball out of the park. Miguel Cabrera hitting fourth. But as a rookie at that time I don't think other teams approached our three four hitters now like they did in '03. So I think there's a big difference but there's some similarities where the key is to have professional consecutive at bats, and I thought we had that in '03. We had a lot of guys, maybe more speed at the top with Castillo, but I think we have more speed at the bottom here. But the ability to grind out at bats and have a lot of good at bats one game after another, I think that's absolutely a strength of our team right now.
Two years of hitting behind Manny and seeing him every day, when you see him, what are the things that he does, playing games with pitchers, maybe baiting them into throwing the pitch he wants, and also some of the things he does behind the scenes?
MIKE LOWELL: Well, I think Manny gets a bad rap. I think people look at him and think he comes out on the field ten minutes before the game and starts hitting. His preparation is very routine. He does a lot of visualization drills that I think are unique to baseball players. I don't think a lot of people do that. He does a lot of things visually with small baseballs and he does very specific stuff on the tee. So there's an absolute method to how he wants to approach the game. His talent is unbelievable.
For me, I think he recognizes pitches a lot earlier than a lot of guys because it seems like he does not even intend to swing at some pitches and they look like they're two inches off the plate. I don't know, he might be guessing, but it's happened too many times to think that he's guessed right all those times. I think he recognizes pitches and I think when he's on, he doesn't have any weaknesses. You saw the homerun in Cleveland was actually a pitcher's pitch, back, low and away, and then you've got a guy hitting .357 comes in, Francisco Rodriguez, and he hits it out. But it's not like he just steps up to the plate. He's worked very hard to become the hitter he is.
Whether it's you or Kevin or David or whoever it is, somebody that's a big part of that lineup is not going to be in there for the next three games. What do you think it does to the depth and the potency of this lineup, whoever it is, to take one of those pieces out?
MIKE LOWELL: It does nothing when you consider that you have to play in a National League park. But I think the American League teams are set up a little bit more offensive because of the DH. Most teams in the league aren't your nine hole hitter that slaps a couple and gets on base. It's going to be one of the big boppers. In our case it's going to be one of the guys that has been a pretty big piece all year. That's what we have to deal with. We're going to know ahead of time, and whatever happens all three of us are going to be rooting for our teammates to win, no matter what the case. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Top to bottom it seems that the offense is probably clicking as well as it has all year, hitting well over .300 in the postseason. Would you say that's indeed the case and what is happening that's caused everything to mesh the way it has?
MIKE LOWELL: I would say yeah, it's the case that we're hitting and putting together at bats, as well as in any stretch during the season. I think we're being patient with guys that are not executing their pitching, I think we're being very selective, but I don't know, it's kind of a fine line where you can be patiently aggressive. Just because a guy doesn't throw -- I mean, if a guy throws strike we're not going to take pitches just to say that we take pitches and be patient. That's not the way to do it. I think our approach has worked but we're looking for our pitch, and if it's not there we've been taking, hitter after hitter we've been able to grind out at bats and get pitchers' pitch counts up and maybe get pitchers out of the game earlier than the other guy wants to.
Last week in Cleveland people were saying there's something different about the game once Josh takes the field. He has had extraordinary run support this year. Is there something that goes on that permeates the whole ballclub because of the confidence he gives you, or what is it because he has had extraordinary run support?
MIKE LOWELL: I don't think, because I think sometimes if you have so much confidence in pitchers, your offense kind of takes a little bit of a lull because you feel like two runs is good enough. So I actually think the position players deserve a lot of credit to still grind out and score runs. We know if we're up 4 or 5 to 1 with Josh on the mound we feel like that's a huge rally that the other team has to do just to get back in the game. He's proven at least in this stretch in the postseason that's not happening. So I think it's even more important for us not to have it a one run game or a two run game. Just keep piling on the runs no matter what the case may be because we saw that in Game 2 in Cleveland. They scored seven runs when the game was tied. I don't think too many runs are ever enough in the postseason.
From your experience in playing in Coors Field, do you feel any different, do you get light headed, thirsty?
MIKE LOWELL: I don't. I'm kind of standing at third base. If I had to run around the track I might get thirsty. I think people think I hit a pop up and the ball goes out. That's really not the case. It's a big field so I think a lot more hits fall. There's a lot more room for hits. Innings keep going and sooner or later you might hit a homerun, and I think that's the reason why so many runs are scored. You know, you can pitch well there, and I think we're expecting our guys to pitch well there, but it is a tough place to play in the sense that down three, four runs either way, I think the Rockies have seen through just time and time again that a three, four run deficit isn't the same in Colorado as it is other places just because it seems like there's a lot more room for balls to fall and the rallies can continue.
You don't feel any faster on the basepath?
MIKE LOWELL: It's tough for me to feel faster on the basepath, no. I need a pitcher to be pretty slow for me to feel faster.
What were your expectations when you joined the Red Sox, and have you exceeded them? You've set a record for most RBIs for a third baseman by a Red Sox. You've taken over the fifth spot. Have you exceeded your expectations?
MIKE LOWELL: I was very happy with especially the RBIs this year. I kind of look at each year as opportunities. I think there's some years where you're supposed to drive in 100. If you have that many opportunities and that many chances, sometimes you are, or you should. I was the throw in in the deal. They needed Josh Beckett. They needed to get a top right handed pitcher, and I don't think the Red Sox after the '05 season were like, Lowell has to be in that deal for us to take Beckett (laughter). I'm sure that's not the way they were going. But I appreciate the fact that people in the organization, John Henry knew me as a person and a player when he owned the Marlins and that had some effect. I didn't feel any worse as a player.
How did I feel coming here? I felt excited. I thought it was going to be a terrific situation. I still believed going into the '06 season that I was the player -- I can't believe the fluke I had in '05 was the real player that I was. Confidence wise I felt good about it, so I think it's satisfying that I've been able to put together two good years and get to the postseason and be in the position we're in right now.
What do you think is the driving force behind the team's defensive consistency and what has impressed you about Kevin's transition from third base to first base?
MIKE LOWELL: Kevin has been unbelievable. I think it's an easier transition from third to first than the other way around, but you don't see guys that have the range that he has at first. I think he has well above average range, and that's big, because I think especially when a first baseman holds the runner on, and you get that big moment, and if you get a guy that can move over, he can at least get the lead runner you can keep innings in check. The stats show he hasn't made an error all year. He's been a huge asset for us defensively.
I think defense is a big part of our game. I think Youk and Coco, those two guys especially, definitely deserve Gold Glove consideration with the way those two have stood out. But I think we're a team that if you hit it to us, more often than not we're making every team play, and sometimes that's more important than having three or four guys that can make the incredible play but aren't as consistent on the routine balls.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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