Lowell frustrated with diminished role on Red Sox

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Lowell saw that his name was not in the Boston Red Sox starting lineup Tuesday night — and he didn't appear surprised.

Lowell expressed a season's worth of frustration at his diminished role with the Red Sox before they faced CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees.

"It's a little unfortunate but I think somewhat it's painfully evident when you don't have a role on the team," the right-handed hitting Lowell said about not starting against the lefty after sitting against a right-hander Monday.

In the final season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract, the 2007 World Series MVP is without a position after Boston acquired Adrian Beltre in January to play third base. Earlier in the offseason, the Red Sox had worked out a deal to send Lowell to Texas but the trade fell through because he needed thumb surgery.

At 19-20 going into Tuesday night, the Red Sox were off to their worst start since 1997. Lowell has played in only 20 games, several of those as a pinch hitter.

"I don't think I've played three consecutive days all year. It's hard to get on a roll," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy who's going to wow you in BP. I'm not going to hit the ball 40 rows deep."

The four-time All-Star added: "I've truly agonized over it. It's not good or bad, it's just reality."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Lowell has not expressed his frustration to him.

Lowell sat Monday night when the Yankees started right-hander Phil Hughes and was out Tuesday even though he is hitting .286 (6 for 21) against Sabathia while David Ortiz was batting .241 (7 for 29) and Beltre was at .063 (1 for 16).

Ortiz, however, is in the midst of a resurgence. He has gone deep in three of the last four games and is hitting .348 (16 for 46) with 14 RBIs this month.

Lowell is batting .263 with a homer and nine RBIs in 57 at-bats.

"You feel like if you would have played really well maybe something would have changed, but I'm not really sure," Lowell said. "I actually believe it's right to keep him in the lineup. That's what you have to do, that's how you get guys hot."

Beltre is leading the Boston regulars in hitting this year with a .312 average. Another reason why Francona might be reluctant to take Beltre out is because of defense.

Lowell had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip after the 2008 season and had a big drop-off at third base. Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove winner, was brought in as part of Boston's effort to decrease the amount of runs it allows.

With injured outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron close to being activated from the disabled list, Lowell sees his role shrinking further, but he hasn't asked for a trade.

"When Jacoby and Cam come back I just don't really know what my role is," he said. "With those two in the lineup, I don't know. Who would I hit for? When I hit, I get pinch-run for. I don't play defense. I mean, I don't know."