Boston INF Mike Lowell honored in pregame ceremony

Mike Lowell lined the ball deep to left field, just missing a homer as it hit high off the Green Monster for a single.

Still, it was a fitting finale to a 13-year career for the Boston Red Sox infielder.

Lowell, honored before Saturday's day-night doubleheader with the New York Yankees, is retiring after the last game of the season Sunday. After he reached base all three times up in the opener Saturday with a double, walk and single, manager Terry Francona doesn't plan to play him again.

"I told (Francona) I would love to end my career on a base hit," Lowell said. "I thought it was really nice."

After his leadoff single in the fifth, Lowell was replaced by pinch-runner Lars Anderson. Lowell went to the dugout, then came out and waved his helmet to the cheering crowd.

The 2007 World Series MVP is batting .239 with five homers and 26 RBIs. For his career, he's hitting .279 with 223 homers and 952 RBIs.

Lowell played sparingly this season as Adrian Beltre took over at third base. But when Kevin Youkilis was lost for the season with a thumb injury on Aug. 2, Lowell, still slowed by a hip ailment, became the primary first baseman.

The Red Sox worked out a deal to trade Lowell to the Texas Rangers before the season, but it was called off because he had a thumb injury that required surgery. Lowell was dangled in trade talks until the July 31 deadline.

But he was touched by the 20-minute ceremony and nearly choked up as he addressed the fans.

"This year was tough," he said after the Yankees won the opener 6-5 in 10 innings. "I didn't enjoy my role. ... I don't think life is scripted perfect anyway, so to have it end like this is a pretty good script."

During the ceremony on the infield dirt next to third base, Lowell was given the third base bag by pitcher Josh Beckett, who came to Boston with Lowell from Florida in a trade before the 2006 season that sent shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins.

"I don't intend to give it back," Lowell said after the game.

His wife, Bertica, and two children, Alexis and Anthony, sat near him. His father Carl, a member of the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame, threw the ceremonial first pitch to his son. Lowell also brought out the lineup card for the opener with his children.

"I just want to thank God for allowing me the privilege and the opportunity to wear this jersey, to play in this ballpark, to represent the city of Boston and to share so many memories with all of you," the 36-year-old Lowell told the crowd.

Another respected Red Sox veteran, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, also is nearing the end of his career after spending the first part of the season as a starter before being used rarely out of the bullpen. In Saturday's opener, he allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings, ending the season with a 4-10 record and 5.34 ERA.

Wakefield, 44, likely would retire after next season. He wants to return in 2011 for a 17th season with Boston and would like to catch Roger Clemens and Cy Young, with 192 wins, as the winningest pitchers in club history. Wakefield has 179 victories. But he is due to make $2 million and it wouldn't cost Boston much to release him.

"It's been very frustrating" shifting between roles, he said. "It's hard to swallow at times. I've done everything they asked me to do without complaining too much."

And if he is back with Boston?

"I think it will be easier for me, knowing that it will probably be my last year," Wakefield said.