Lowell on mend; Drew could rest
Bench might again come into play as Red Sox's lineup in flux
BOSTON -- If there's one thing the constant flow of injuries throughout the 2008 season taught the Red Sox, it's just how resourceful their bench seems to be whenever it is called upon.
"No matter who or where it's been, it hasn't been the same guy for us all year," closer Jonathan Papelbon said. "Everybody has contributed in this clubhouse."
That hasn't changed this postseason, as manager Terry Francona used 11 different starters while compiling a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series against the Angels. It appears Game 3 could have another lineup twist that makes it different than the first two contests.
After sitting out Friday's Game 2, third baseman Mike Lowell -- despite still fighting pain in his right hip -- sounds ready to return to the lineup on Sunday. The opposite looks true for J.D. Drew, who after hitting the game-winning homer against Los Angeles closer Francisco Rodriguez on Friday, could be given a night off to rest his lower back.
With lefty Joe Saunders on the hill for the Angels, this particular opportunity to rest Drew would also allow the switch-hitting Coco Crisp to make his first postseason start of the year.
If the two are not in the lineup together on Sunday, it means Game 1 of this series will have been the only time Lowell and Drew -- two crucial parts of the 2007 World Series-winning Sox team -- were in the lineup together since Aug. 12.
"I'll run around a little bit and see how it goes," Drew said before Saturday's workout at Fenway Park. "Playoff baseball, you run on a lot of adrenaline. Little nagging injures seem to disappear. You do what you can, and kind of take in the environment and really enjoy it."
Francona said he'd talk with Drew after the workout and see how he feels. Still, this might be a prime opportunity to rest Drew's back as the Sox have an opportunity to clinch an AL Championship Series berth with a win Sunday.
"If there was any doubt of him playing a back-to-back day, that's what we would do," Francona said.
As for Lowell, he said his hip feels the same as it did when he played in Wednesday's Game 1. It's the type of injury that doesn't necessarily improve with a day of rest.
The Sox moved first baseman Kevin Youkilis over to third in Lowell's absence on Friday, then inserted left-handed-hitting Mark Kotsay at first base. Again, with the lefty Saunders on the hill, having Lowell's presence from the right side of the plate would be a welcomed advantage.
Though he went 0-for-4 in Game 1, Lowell said it had little to do with playing through a painful hip injury.
"I feel fine," Lowell said. "I think that if the ball I hit to Garret Anderson drops and [Mark] Teixeira doesn't dive, I'm 2-for-4 -- I'm a great hitter. I don't feel like there's any reason why I can't have a good game."
Lowell is a career .267 postseason hitter, but batted .333 against the Angels in the ALDS last season -- including two doubles and three RBIs. If his name is on Sunday's lineup card, even without Drew, he's got a chance to help send his team one step closer to the World Series.
Lowell's demeanor says he's more than up to the challenge, even if he'll feel some pain along the way.
"I think you have to put a lot aside," he said. "We're trying to do something that will be pretty special. We've got a great opportunity where we're at right now to go on to the next round and try to go from there."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.