Lowrie impressing Red Sox already

Lowrie impressing Red Sox already

ANAHEIM -- When you ask Red Sox manager Terry Francona to compare one player to another, his typical response is that he's not comfortable making such comparisons. But in the case of prospect Jed Lowrie, who has been thrust into an important role with shortstop Julio Lugo sidelined for several weeks, Francona came out with an unsolicited comparison.

"This kid is steady and has good at-bats and kind of looks like Bill Mueller," Francona said. "You look at maybe the way they're going to have their at-bats, a switch-hitter doesn't necessarily have a lot of foot speed, able to make plays, grind out at-bats, hits some doubles, occasional home run. That's not the worst player I've ever seen."

Far from it. Mueller, who played for the Red Sox from 2003-05, was a highly respected player who seemed to do everything right on a baseball field. Guys like Lowrie and Mueller won't light up the highlight reel. But what Mueller always did was make plays and get important hits. Francona sees the same type of possibilities from Lowrie.

Lowrie got the start at shortstop against the Angels on Saturday. Francona isn't sure who will start on Sunday against Halos righty Jon Garland.

"I want to play this kid a little bit," Francona said. "I want to keep [Alex Cora] sharp, and we always have tried to do that. But I want to play this kid a little bit."

The one question about Lowrie is his range at shortstop. It has been suggested by some that Lowrie projects better as a second or third baseman. Francona is keeping an open mind.

"He'll be measured by some, hopefully not me, by a ball that he maybe can't get to, that's up the middle or in the hole," Francona said. "If you make the routine play consistently, you just make the plays you're supposed to make, that's good. That's a good shortstop. Again, you take your whole game and add it together, and does it help you win games? That's really what it is. Some guys need to do more in areas. This guy is probably going to be a little bit of an offensive player here. It will be fun to watch him. I haven't seen him play a ton. I'm kind of looking forward to it."

Earlier this season, when Mike Lowell was on the disabled list, Lowrie came up from Triple-A Pawtucket and seemed to help the Red Sox win every time he played. Now he's back, possibly for the rest of the season.

"If he's a good hitter, he probably projects anywhere. My point earlier was, baseball people, myself included, can get caught up in what a guy can't do as opposed to what they can do. This kid has done a lot."
-- Manager Terry Francona, on Jed Lowrie

"It's always exciting to be in the big leagues," Lowrie said. "I know my role on this team is when someone gets hurt, I'm going to be the guy to come up and help out. You never want to see someone get hurt, but at the same time, it's a good opportunity for me."

Though Lowrie was a second baseman at Stanford University, he has played a lot of shortstop in the Minor Leagues. He is comfortable in his ability there, even if the scouts might not be.

"For me, it's not about showing anybody outside this clubhouse," Lowrie said. "For me, it's about going out there and proving to the guys in this clubhouse and the organization and to myself that I can play shortstop. If I do that, I feel like everything else will take care of itself."

His manager seems to have similar confidence. Some of that stems from what Francona has heard from Triple-A Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson.

"He swears that this kid will hit our bullpen from the right side," Francona said. "He swears on it. That's good enough for me. That was kind of reassuring."

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that Lowrie has more power from the right side, and he's more of an on-base player when hitting lefty.

It remains to be seen which position Lowrie will end up at during his career.

"If he's a good hitter, he probably projects anywhere," Francona said. "My point earlier was, baseball people, myself included, can get caught up in what a guy can't do as opposed to what they can do. This kid has done a lot."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.