Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein acknowledged during a conference call Tuesday to announce Schilling's one-year deal that the team is talking with Lowell's representatives in an effort to bring back the player who also set a new franchise record for most RBIs by a third baseman with 120.
"We're in discussions with the Levinson brothers, Mike's representatives," Epstein said. "We're working at it, hopefully moving the ball forward a little bit each day. I don't usually like to talk about contract negotiations in any type of detail unless the player wants to or does so first. In this case, I think we have a better chance of getting a deal done in relative secrecy or confidentiality. I just answer it in general terms and say we're working at it and making progress."
Kevin Youkilis, who won his first Gold Glove on Tuesday, also took time out to sing Lowell's praises and explain why it would be great for continuity if he returned.
"It's definitely a huge advantage when you have guys across the diamond you play with -- you know their habits and routines, you can tell sometimes from just the way they throw the ball, the spin they put on it," Youkilis said. "To have a guy like Mike Lowell across the diamond is pretty easy, most of the time. Being a Gold Glover himself, he definitely makes my job easier at first base.
"It's good to see the same guys out there," he added. "It just flows a little better when you have guys that you're acclimated to and dealing with a on a daily basis. We hope Mike signs back with us and I get to see him across the diamond, throw that ball again."
Surgery for Papi: David Ortiz had arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital to address the cartilage problem in his right knee.
The team reported that the procedure, performed by team medical director Dr. Thomas Gill, went well, and the slugging designated hitter will begin rehabilitation immediately. The team added that the surgery should not interfere with his offseason program, and he is expected to be ready for full participation in Spring Training.
Ortiz batted .332 with 35 home runs and 117 RBIs in 149 games with Boston in 2007.
Something borrowed, something new: The Red Sox are in the very early stages of considering a dramatic switch to their pitching rotation that has nothing to do with signing a major free agent or acquiring a star hurler.
Based on the success the team had with giving Schilling and Josh Beckett more than seven days' rest on several occasions late in the season and the fact that Daisuke Matsuzaka thrived on five days' rest in his native Japan, the team is considering a switch to a six-man pitching rotation.
"We've discussed that concept, the concept of a six-man rotation," Epstein said. "I think it's premature to commit to any usage pattern, but certainly we're in a bit of a unique situation where you'd say a number of our starters might benefit from something like that in one way or another. But there's just so much attrition in baseball that the minute we start counting on having a six-man rotation or give it serious consideration, that's when we lose a pitcher or two in Spring Training and we look for someone to step up."
Adding more fuel to the speculation now is the return of Schilling for 2008, giving the Red Sox, at least on paper, six starters heading into the season in Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and possibly Clay Buchholz.
"I'm sure that topic will come up in our internal discussions between now and Spring Training. It's an interesting concept, given the personnel we have, but not something we've fully explored yet," Epstein said.