Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:18 pm
NEW YORK -- The first time Dave Dombrowski asked about Doug Fister, Jack Zduriencik said no, he's not available.
And the second time, and the third time, and . . .
How many times was it, Dave, a dozen?
"At least," Dombrowski said.
"Probably," Dombrowski said. "Over a three-week period, we called a couple of times a day. Sometimes three times."
Zduriencik, the Mariners general manager, kept saying no. Dombrowski, the Tigers general manager, refused to take no for an answer.
"He opened the door at times, and then he would close it," Dombrowski said. "As long as it was open a little, we kept trying."
Eventually, on the day before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Tigers got Fister and David Pauley in exchange for four young players.
Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA, so you could say that Dombrowski's persistence is the reason the Tigers are in the playoffs. With Friday night's rain, Fister will in effect start two games in the Division Series against the Yankees, so you could say that he is the Tigers' best chance for advancing.
Fister will pick up for Justin Verlander when Game 1 resumes in the middle of the second inning Saturday night. If the series goes the five-game distance, Fister is now on schedule to start the deciding game.
And all because when Zduriencik said no, Dombrowski kept trying. And trying.
One Tigers person said he had never seen Dombrowski so determined to get a deal done. Dombrowski said he could only compare it to his pursuit of Mike Lowell in the summer and fall of 1995, when Lowell was with the Yankees and Dombrowski was running the Marlins.
"I worked on that one for six months," he said.
The Tigers identified Fister early, deciding that the combination of his ability and his contract status (he can't be a free agent until after 2015) made him the right fit. The Tigers looked at every pitcher who was or might be available (they made a try for James Shields, but Rays GM Andrew Friedman gave them a firmer "no" than Zduriencik did), but for most of the month, Fister was their top target.
In fact Tigers people insist, they preferred Fister to Ubaldo Jimenez, even if the price for the two had been the same (which it wasn't).
Their first offer for Fister, sources say, included none of the four players who were eventually in the deal (Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin). No one can remember how many other permutations were offered before Zduriencik agreed.
What does seem certain is that the Tigers were the one team that wasn't scared off when Zduriencik said no. Plenty of teams needed pitching, but no one else tried nearly as hard for Fister.
In the end, the Tigers thought they gave up a lot. They view Martinez as a future star at third base, think Ruffin has a chance to pitch very well in the big leagues and view Wells as a potential starting outfielder.
"I guess I'm old school," Dombrowski said. "You don't try to 'win' a trade."
And, apparently, you don't take no for an answer.
Posted on: July 23, 2010 5:22 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 5:23 pm
The Tigers, who lost third baseman Brandon Inge to a broken hand last week, have some interest in Mike Lowell, who began a minor-league rehabilitation assignment Thursday at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Lowell was Pawtucket's designated hitter on Thursday, and after a scheduled day off Friday, he's expected to play third base on Saturday. Lowell had a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right hip this past week, and he told reporters in Pawtucket that he expects to be activated by the Red Sox next week.
Lowell has spent most of this season in limbo, because with Kevin Youkilis at first base and Adrian Beltre at third, Boston hasn't had a spot for him in the regular lineup. The Red Sox nearly traded Lowell to the Rangers last winter, because a different injury derailed the deal.
Lowell makes $10 million, but the Red Sox would obviously be willing to pick up most of the remaining money if they are able to move him. The Tigers, who called up Scott Sizemore to at least temporarily take Inge's place at third base, would be a good fit if they determine that Lowell is healthy enough to play regularly.
Inge suffered the injury Monday night, when he was hit by a Scott Feldman fastball. The Tigers said he would miss 4-6 weeks.
Posted on: May 18, 2010 5:48 pm
NEW YORK -- The tensions of losing are starting to show with the Red Sox.
Issues between catcher Victor Martinez and starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka were significant to prompt a pregame meeting Tuesday. While that meeting was going on, Mike Lowell sat at his locker and openly wished for a way out of his personal limbo.
"Sometimes you feel the team might be better off if you're not on it," said Lowell, the one-time third baseman who has seen his already limited playing time disappear with the revival of David Ortiz's bat.
Lowell said he has even considered asking the team to release him, but said he has not discussed that with Red Sox management.
And when manager Terry Francona was asked about Lowell expressing his frustrations, Francona gave a brusque answer.
"He hasn't to me," Francona said, repeating the same answer when the question was asked again.
Francona did spend time with Martinez and Matsuzaka, not surprising given the number of times Matsuzaka shook off his catcher Monday night against the Yankees, and given the way Martinez reacted after Monday's game as he talked about the shake-offs.
"I'm just back there trying to help him go through the game," Martinez said.
Francona said he doesn't mind the shake-offs, but he clearly doesn't want the problems to become so public.
"I think it was frustration showing," he said. "My point to both of them is we need to find out how to make it better."
It's a lot harder for the Red Sox to make Lowell's situation better, unless they do indeed release him (and that seems unlikely at this point). With Ortiz starting to hit, with Kevin Youkilis at first base and Adrian Beltre at third, there's really nowhere for Lowell to play.
And with Ortiz heating up, Lowell said he fully understood the decision to use Ortiz as the designated hitter Tuesday, even against left-hander CC Sabathia.
"I actually think it's right to keep him in the lineup," Lowell said.
But that doesn't help him any.
"It's painfully evident I don't have a role on the team," he said.
And it's painfully evident that the Red Sox have issues, beyond their 19-20 record.
Posted on: March 24, 2010 7:02 pm
BRADENTON, Fla. -- If not for a thumb injury that required surgery, Mike Lowell would be with the Rangers, not the Red Sox. But it's worth remembering that Lowell's hip, and not his thumb, is the most significant issue he faces now.
Speaking publicly today for one of the few times this spring, Lowell said that while the strength in his hip has returned, he has come to believe that his hip will never be the same as it was before the torn labrum that required surgery in 2008.
"I'm better than last year," Lowell said, after playing first base for the Red Sox today against the Pirates. "But there's a certain condition in my hip that won't let me get to where I was in '07 [and before].
"And that's disappointing. . . . I think I was anticipating maybe a little more."
Lowell said the hip affects him most when he runs. While he was never fast, Lowell's speed and his first step at third base were noticeably worse last year than they were pre-surgery.
Lowell made it very clear that he doesn't want to discuss his role on the Red Sox this spring. With Adrian Beltre signed to play third base and Kevin Youkilis set at first, Lowell will be a part-time player, unless the Sox trade him.
He was willing to talk about playing first base, and became quite animated as he talked about his conversations with baserunners and with Pirates first-base coach Carlos Garcia.
"You almost can't help but talk [while playing first base]," Lowell said. "I feel like I know Garcia. He's almost like family. No wonder everyone loves Sean Casey."
Scouts on Florida's West Coast are all talking about how bad the Pirates look this spring. The words used to describe most of the Pirate roster: "Fringe players." . . . Funny that the Red Sox and Yankees don't play a single time this spring, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona said it doesn't bother him. "Even when we played them, we didn't really play them," Francona said, noting that the Sox would never take many regulars to Tampa, and the Yankees would take very few on trips to Fort Myers. "I actually don't care who we play. The shorter the bus rides, the better."
Posted on: December 10, 2009 10:43 am
Edited on: December 10, 2009 12:44 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- A trade sending Mike Lowell to the Rangers is in place, awaiting final approval from the Red Sox.
Sources involved in the talks said that the Red Sox would pay $7-8 million of Lowell's $11 million 2010 salary. The Red Sox would get catcher Max Ramirez.
People with both teams said the deal still hasn't been finalized, and isn't 100 percent certain to happen.
The Rangers have Michael Young at third base, but they see Lowell getting some at-bats at first base (in place of Chris Davis) and as the designated hitter, limiting his playing time enough to protect his surgically repaired hip. They also see Lowell as a good influence in their clubhouse.
It's possible that the Red Sox could end up signing free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, or that they could acquire a first baseman such as San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez and use Kevin Youkilis at third base.
The cash-strapped Rangers traded Kevin Millwood to the Orioles this week, and in effect used the money they saved to add both Lowell and pitcher Rich Harden, with maybe $2 million remaining to fill other needs in the coming weeks.
Posted on: March 10, 2009 4:29 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2009 4:32 pm
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez will be happy to know that there is life after hip surgery.
Mike Lowell had three at-bats for the Red Sox today, not even five months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Lowell was the Red Sox designated hitter in the exhibition game against the Orioles, but he's slated to play third base Friday night and said today that he hopes to be healthy enough to play 150 games at third this season.
"I'd like to play a full load," said Lowell, who was limited to 113 games last year, after playing 153 and 154 in his first two years in Boston. "I think that's normal."
While manager Terry Francona said that Lowell will start out by playing third base every other day, Lowell said the plan is for him to play five or six of the final eight games before the Red Sox finish spring training.
Lowell had the surgery Oct. 20, the day after the Red Sox lost Game 7 of the American League Championship Series to Tampa Bay. Lowell didn't play in the ALCS, after trying to play in the Division Series against the Angels and finding it too painful.
Lowell's situation isn't exactly the same as the one Rodriguez faces. The injuries weren't exactly the same, and with a full offseason in which to heal, there was no reason for Lowell to consider the type of surgery that Rodriguez had Monday.
What is worth noting is that Lowell believes he eventually won't feel any effects from the hip injury.
"The docs told me after a year, I'm going to feel like new, so that takes us all the way through this year," Lowell said. "I think there's going to be points this year where it's going to feel like a grind, but I think the satisfaction I have is that structurally there's nothing wrong. Last year, we were trying to mask something, knowing that in the offseason we were going to take care of it. I think when people say 4-6 months, it's to be able to do the work."
So now the big question: Who has the most famous hip?
"I'm going with Shakira No. 1, with her hips," Lowell quipped. "Alex is probably No. 2, and I'm probably taking a back seat to Chase Utley, so I'll take fourth."
Posted on: October 20, 2008 4:30 am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Don't cry for the Red Sox.
They're done for this year after the Game 7 loss to the Rays, but that doesn't mean they're done for good. They didn't become the first repeat champion in more than a decade, but that doesn't mean they'll never win again.
In fact, the Red Sox could return as soon as next year, with virtually the same cast. That's assuming they find a way to re-sign catcher Jason Varitek, which in this view, they should. Yes, it's true that Varitek has looked lost at the plate. But even in his disappointing postseason, it became obvious that the Red Sox still rely on him. They have no one ready to replace him, and the free-agent market for catchers is absolutely awful.
The Sox face few other big decisions. They will have to determine whether Mike Lowell will be fully healthy after hip surgery, but the other injuries that helped end their postseason run should heal over the winter.
Any hurt feelings should heal, too, if they haven't already. Even after losing a tough Game 7, most of the Red Sox players seemed to realize that there was no reason for regrets.
"We just kind of ran out of magic," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
"It didn't work out," said designated hitter David Ortiz. "What can you do?"
They ran out of magic this year. It didn't work out this year.
They'll be back, ready to battle the Rays in baseball's toughest division again next year.
Posted on: October 14, 2008 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2008 5:34 pm
BOSTON -- Interesting to see how Manny Ramirez reacted when people suggested that Boston's two ALCS comebacks (in 2004 and 2007) should give hope to the Dodgers, who are now down three games to one to the Phillies.
"That's in Boston," Ramirez told reporters at Dodger Stadium. "That was a great team."
Now the Sox down two games to one to the Rays, with the chance that they could fall behind 3-1 tonight.
Of course they could come back from that. But is this still a great team?
But Manny is gone, of course. Mike Lowell is missing due to injury, and the Red Sox said today that Lowell will have surgery on his hip next week. Josh Beckett seems to be hurting (although the Red Sox continue to deny it), and Ortiz may be hurting, too.
Are they great? Maybe we'll find out.
Drew has led off 59 times in his career, including 17 times for the Red Sox in 2007 and eight times this year.
"Last year we hit him leadoff to get him going," Francona said. "This year, it was more out of necessity."
The reason today, Francona said, is that Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine holds runners on so well that it's almost pointless to have a base-stealing threat in the leadoff spot. There were only four steals attempted while Sonnanstine was on the mound this year, and just one was successful.