Lowrie Replaces Lowell

The Red Sox placed third baseman Mike Lowell, the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player, on the 15-day disabled list Thursday due to a sprained left thumb. The Sox replaced Lowell on the roster with infielder Jed Lowrie, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Lowrie is a natural middle infielder, but in anticipation of the promotion, he made his first start of the season at third base for the PawSox in their afternoon matinee against Lehigh Valley earlier Thursday. It was only the third career start at third base for Lowrie, who started twice at the hot corner for Pawtucket last year (he also made two starts at third base while playing for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League).

Lowrie, who made his first seven starts of the season at shortstop, was hitting .160 with one RBI in eight games for the PawSox. He was named the Sox' minor league offensive player of the year last year, when he hit .298 with 13 homers, 70 RBI and 47 doubles between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket. He was a non-roster invitee to major league spring training and finished second on the Sox with 47 at-bats.

Lowrie, who turns 24 April 17, is ranked fourth in Diehard's 2008 prospect guide. He was selected by the Sox out of Stanford in the supplemental round of the 2005 draft (45th overall) and is the fourth member of that vaunted class to reach the majors. First-rounder Jacoby Ellsbury and supplemental pick Clay Buchholz are playing with the Sox now while first-rounder Craig Hansen pitched for the Sox in 2005 and 2006.

The Sox did not release a timetable for Lowell's return, though he went for an MRI on the thumb earlier Thursday. The Boston Globe reported on its website Thursday evening that Lowell appeared unhappy when he went in to Terry Francona's office to visit with the manager, Theo Epstein and team doctor Thomas Gill.

"We needed to allow [Lowell] to show up and see how he felt," Francona told reporters earlier in the afternoon. "I think there was some concern that he would be very stiff and sore, as he is."

While Lowrie provides the Sox some versatility, it's expected that Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis will get the majority of the starts at third base in Lowell's absence. Sean Casey, whom the Sox signed as a free agent in February, will man first base whenever Youkilis moves across the diamond.

Lowell was injured while he was diving for a ball in the first inning of a 7-2 loss to the Tigers Wednesday at Fenway. He appeared in the field in the second inning but was lifted for a pinch-hitter (Casey) in the bottom of the inning. Lowell is hitting .200 (6-for-30) with no homers and no RBI thus far. This trip to the disabled list is his first since 2003, when he was sidelined with a broken left thumb while playing for the Marlins. He missed just seven games during his first two seasons with the Sox.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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