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With another surgery (and the baseball season) looming, Mike Lowell at peace with decision

02.07.11 at 12:22 pm ET
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Mike Lowell

For the first time in his adult life, baseball season is starting without Mike Lowell. And he’s fine with that.

“I don’t think I feel the way I wanted to, so that has been a little comforting, I guess,” Lowell said from his Miami-area home. “I know I’m going to miss playing. But I’ve been entertaining myself in other ways, so it’s been pretty good. It’s been a good transition so far.

“I think I’m surprisingly happy. Plus, I think my hip has gone a little bit downhill.”

If there was any doubt creeping into Lowell’s mind of late, they were recently turned back after making a visit to Dr. Bryan Kelly’s office in New York City. While visiting Kelly, the former Red Sox third baseman was advised he may have to undergo another surgery on his already surgically repaired right hip.

“I went to New York last weekend, got an X-ray and they told me it has gotten progressively worse, so I got another cortisone shot and I think I might have to have a resurfacing surgery around September,” explained Lowell, who underwent surgery on his torn hip labrum following the 2008 season.

“Without medication or pain management I don’t think I can run 50 yards right now, I know I can’t. I don’t want to be taking meds to go about my day-to-day life. I feel like my quality of life is going down a little bit. I want to teach my kid how to run the bases in Little League instead of just standing there. It seems trivial but it bothers me that I can’t do it.”

Lowell has been able to work out using an elliptical machine, while also diving into the world of paddle-boarding. And the doctors informed the 36-year-old that with the surgery, his hip could hold up “15-plus years,” with the arthritic part of the hip healing instantly. (“That,” he said, “sounds exciting to me.”)

Yet, he still understands that a hip replacement is most likely inevitable, and that the planned operation wouldn’t exactly put him in position to play again.
Still, there are other priorities for Lowell these days and stepping on a baseball field – unless it’s his children’s Little League diamond – isn’t one of them.

And as far as how 2010 shook out, despite the struggles with his health, there were no regrets.

“I got through artificially with anti-inflammatories and pain medication,” he said. “I don’t know if that was the greatest thing for the hip, but I don’t regret doing it.

“But I’m excited to take my kids to a baseball game and instead of them watching me I want to tell them what’s going on so they can learn the strategy of what’s going on.”

According to Lowell, who has had offers from multiple national media outlets to serve as a baseball analyst, it is a progression that was put in motion well before he experienced problems with his hip.

He explained that when negotiating his contract following the ’07 season, he turned down a four-year offer from the Phillies for more reasons than just wanting to stay with the Red Sox. Retirement was already on Lowell’s mind.

“I think everybody’s decision comes at different times,” he said. “For me, my decision started about three years ago when I looked ahead and saw what ages my kids would be and what would bring me the most satisfaction as a person. I think circumstances made it easier to make the decision when I did. I’m still just as comfortable as the way I went out as when I mentioned throughout the season. If anything I had a chance to have a nice ceremony on the day of a game I ended up playing in. For me, that meant a lot.

“I told my agent after ’07 not to go crazy going for the four-year deal even though everybody would prefer it because I’m not sure I’m going to play after three. The money was there already. I wasn’t stressed about that. It was definitely in my thoughts. I really didn’t know how the year was going to pan out. Let’s say I went and had a great year [in ‘10], I still think I would have retired. I don’t think the numbers would have determined. I think the point in my life would have determined it.”

Read More: hip surgery, mike lowell, Retirement,
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