During an appearance on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate on Sunday morning, Red Sox assistant general manager Ben Cherington addressed the right thumb condition that nixed a possible trade of Mike Lowell to the Rangers:
“Even at the end of the playoffs, in our exit physical, he barely made
mention of it,” Cherington said in the interview. “It’s just one of
those things as a player you get used to being a little dinged up at
the end of the season. I think that’s how he felt it. And then Mike, as
many players do, sort of took his customary break after the season, let
the body heal and then when he went to pick up a bat again recently as
per his normal schedule he still felt a little bit in there and so
wanted to get it checked out.”
With surgery now scheduled for the
thumb, get used to hearing the Red Sox saying very complimentary things
about Lowell. It will be a constant theme between now and spring
training. You’ll hear about the wonderful progress he is making on his
rehab, or how the Red Sox are confident he’ll be even better than he
was last season. They’ll say whatever they can to boost his value
headed into spring training.
But while you hear these things, you have
to understand how frustrated the Red Sox are with Lowell for not having
the problem addressed sooner. Not only because of the nixed trade, but
what might have happened had the Red Sox stayed with the status quo.
Lowell likely wouldn’t have had the thumb examined during the offseason at
all had Texas not tentatively agreed to a trade. They have every reason
to be be furious with Lowell, even if they will say otherwise publicly.
UPDATE: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal predicts that “Mike Lowell will never play another game for the Red
Sox” regardless of whether or not the trade with the Rangers is truly dead. He writes that they’re unlikely to simply release Lowell, but “eventually will complete the kind of deal they
tried to make with the Rangers, paying most of Lowell’s salary to
make him disappear.”
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.