Mike Lowell showed the type of veteran power he can bring to a lineup, declaring himself ready to return to Boston after hitting three homers for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday amid trade rumors.
Rehabbing a hip injury, Lowell knocked in five runs in the PawSox's 10-6 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field. The 2007 World Series MVP, who hasn't played in the Majors since June 22, said he feels he's healthy enough to return.
"I felt I was ready [on Saturday]," Lowell told The (Toledo) Blade.
The 36-year-old, who received a cortisone shot on July 19, hit a two-run homer in the first inning, led off the third with his second blast and slugged another two-run shot in the eighth.
"A night like this is special, no matter what level," Lowell told the newspaper. "I'll take this anytime."
Lowell, who's never hit three homers in a big league game, is the first member of the PawSox to do it since Jim Chamblee on May 12, 2000, also at Toledo.
"Toledo has good memories for me," Lowell said. "My first game in Triple-A was in Toledo and I think I hit a home run. So Toledo has treated me well."
Lowell was the "ice cream strikeout player of the game," with fans hoping his strikeouts would add up to free dessert. It didn't happen.
"I know the fans wanted me to strike out to get some ice cream, but maybe next time," he said.
There have been reports the Tigers were interested in adding the four-time All-Star to their lineup. Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge is on the disabled list with a broken hand and, with the Trade Deadline approaching, a solid showing from Lowell in the Minors this week could increase his value.
According to ESPN, the Tigers sent two scouts to Pawtucket last weekend to take a look at Lowell. Conveniently, Toledo is Detroit's top Minor League affiliate.
Lowell hasn't disappointed, singling in his first game before going 4-for-4 in his second start on Saturday. Tuesday's effort raised his average to .444.
"I felt I was putting my stride foot down in a place where I could do some damage," Lowell said. "I was really happy with that."
He's 8-for-18 with three doubles, three homers and seven RBI in four International League games. Tuesday also was his first action at third base after seeing time at first base and DH.
"Mike's performance was a product of a lot of little things he's doing every day that nobody is watching," Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo told The Blade. "He's working very hard behind the scenes in the cage and taking productive swings in batting practice."
Playing a limited role, Lowell is batting .213 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 31 games for Boston. He tweaked his hip in late June and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 26.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Lowell is scheduled to stay with Pawtucket through the four-game set at Toledo but could return as early as Friday when Boston takes on Detroit.
"I felt I was ready the second day in Columbus," Lowell said of his 4-for-4 night. "I thought I had a good rhythm and I thought I was seeing pitches well."
"Torey said he took a bunch of ground balls at third and actually looked real good," Francona told MLB.com. "He moved around real well, he threw real well."
Lowell hasn't gotten much playing time this season, though, with Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz seeing consistent at-bats. He said he was content to finally get some cuts in the Minors.
"I welcome the at-bats," Lowell said. "I haven't had consistent at-bats this year."
Lowell is the fifth player to hit three homers in a game at Fifth Third Field and the first visitor to accomplish the feat.
"It's hard to say he's not ready right now," Lovullo said. "I think after you put up this type of day, play good defense and do everything that I and the organization have asked of him, he's ready to go."