Thursday, May 23, 2013
By JUAN C. RODRIGUEZ/Sun Sentinel
JUPITER, Fla. - The uniform was different. The facial looks that made Mike Lowell's tenure with the Marlins special were not.
Mike Redmond, a former Sea Dogs catcher, now is the Miami Marlins’ manager, leading a low-priced team that may be helped by listening to Mike Lowell, a former Marlin.
Photos by The Associated Press
Mike Lowell went through some rough years with the Marlins, but it was worth it in 2003 when he helped the team win the World Series.
Lowell, a south Florida native and one of the protagonists of the 2003 World Series championship team, arrived in Marlins camp Thursday. He brought the family to visit with friend and manager Mike Redmond's clan through the weekend. While here, Lowell is suited up and ready to assist in any capacity.
"It was different because it wasn't the Marlins uniform I put on or a Red Sox uniform, but it was cool because (equipment manager John Silverman) had a 19 with my name," said Lowell, in the Marlins' clubhouse for the first time since 2005. "I like the black and orange."
Lowell and Redmond were part of an '03 reunion in the coaches' room. Also on hand were Jeff Conine, Jack McKeon, Perry Hill and Lenny Harris, now a Marlins' Gulf Coast League coach.
Redmond said Lowell doesn't have any special assignments.
"Just to be around," Redmond said. "I know him and (Hill) got along so well and he has so much respect for (Hill). I'm sure those two guys will just hang around the position players or the infielders. He doesn't have a specific role of trying to help a certain guy with this. I just want him to be around and be a sounding board for some of our young players."
Lowell no doubt has been a sounding board for frustrated Marlins fans. Retired since 2010, Lowell can look at the current situation from the perspective of both fans and players.
He doesn't blame fans for feeling betrayed after the Marlins blowtorched their 2012 blueprint.
"My biggest argument would be I understand the team lost a lot of games, but I think it would be hard to say they lost a lot of games because of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson," Lowell said. "To a certain degree I almost feel like a fan because even the days when Dave Dombrowski was here, I remember him asking us to go to meetings at the City of Miami because the stadium was a possibility. You had so much hope and you've been wanting this for 15 years and you get it, and it seemed like it didn't last very long.
"But it's not my team. It's not my money. From that standpoint, they have the right to do what they want. Like with every decision a ballplayer makes there's going to be a consequence. I think the ownership has to understand at least where the fans are coming from."
Having been a free agent himself, Lowell added it would be foolish to think the Marlins won't encounter some hurdles if and when they pursue high-priced free agents.
"Your philosophy as an organization I think has a big impact on whether guys want to go there," he said. "If you know you don't have a no-trade clause or some type of protection, that's another obstacle for this organization to sign guys. Do I think they'll never change that to get a guy? You can always change whatever you want, but is it an issue? It's definitely an issue."
While Lowell can't fault Marlins fans for jumping ship, he acknowledged that persevering through difficult seasons can have its rewards.
"The most satisfying part of when we won in '03 was that myself, Alex Gonzalez, Luis Castillo and Derrek Lee was the same infield that took our lumps two, three, four years prior," he said. "It shows that there is a development process that can work. I'm rooting for the guys here and really hope they do well."