Think of the stereotypical spoiled athlete who does not get his way and goes on to make demand after demand.

Then think of Mike Lowell.

Lowell, 36, showed up at the Red Sox spring training camp with a job, but without a position. Other players may have whined.

Surrounded by reporters in Fort Myers, Lowell said, ”No one needs to feel sorry for me.”

Yes, it is awkward to have Lowell in camp without a place to go. Adrian Beltre is at third base, Kevin Youkilis at first and David Ortiz is still the designated hitter.

But since when is awkwardness a big problem? Wouldn’t a team rather have an extra veteran player than a lack of pitching, hitting or fielding?

Lowell, as has been demonstrated over and over, is a class act and a benefit to the clubhouse. Boston should not be in a hurry to strip his locker; nor should the Red Sox give him away.

Would Lowell like to know right now where he will be this season and in what role? Absolutely. But Lowell, in interviews in Fort Myers, is correct to say that the Red Sox will make decisions that will benefit the Red Sox, not Mike Lowell.

Lowell understands the reality of an employer paying you $12 million. The club gets to make the decisions.

 

WHAT SHOULD Boston do with Lowell? Why not hold onto him for at least two months, to make sure Beltre is healthy and productive, and that Ortiz is back to form?

Lowell makes a great insurance policy. Boston might as well get some of its money out of him, rather than pay 75 percent of his salary to play somewhere else.

 

CAN LOWELL still play? A year-plus removed from hip surgery and having just turned 36, Lowell appears on the downside. But he has been disregarded before.

Lowell first came to the Red Sox as a salary dump. Boston took him because it wanted Josh Beckett. But, after an off year with the Marlins in 2005 (.236, 8 home runs), Lowell shined for the Red Sox, averaging 20 home runs and 100 RBI the next two years.

The hip injury certainly hampered him. But players rebound, even at Lowell’s age. Look at Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who injured his shoulder two years ago. After playing only 51 games in 2008, batting .268 with three home runs and 22 RBI, Posada played 111 games last year, at the age of 38, batting .285 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI.

And it’s not as though Lowell struggled last year. His fielding may have been limited, but he batted .290 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI.

 

SPEAKING OF the Yankees and older players, it will be interesting to see if Johnny Damon makes New York regret letting him go. He batted .282 last year with 24 home runs and 82 RBI, while scoring 107 runs.

But Damon is 36, and how many of those home runs came courtesy of the Yankees’ generous right field porch?

And now that Damon is with the Detroit Tigers, does he still get booed at Fenway Park?

 

WITH DAMON gone, the Yankees may be angling to land free agent left fielder Carl Crawford next year.

Crawford, one of the first legitimate stars for the Tampa Bay Rays, has broken off talks for an extension of his contract until after the season.

In other words, Crawford will become a free agent.

Boston could be a destination, but the Red Sox have all four of their outfielders under contract in 2011.

 

JORGE POSADA’S contract with New York is up after 2011. By then, the Yankees may have their new catcher ready. Jesus Montero was ranked No. 4 among all minor league prospects by Baseball America.

Montero, 20, signed a $1.65 million deal with New York in 2006. Montero played for both Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last year (combined .334 average, 17 home runs, 70 RBI).

He played at Hadlock Field last year and suffered a concussion June 5 after a collision with Bubba Bell.

Montero missed the last six weeks of last season with a broken finger.

 

ONE VETERAN who looked to be out of the major leagues was Matt Stairs, who turned 42 on Saturday.

Stairs, an outfielder and noted pinch-hitter who lives in Bangor, was reportedly ready to become the University of Maine hitting coach.

But the San Diego Padres called him late last month and invited him to camp.

Stairs has played for 11 other major league teams, including the Red Sox in 1995.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

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