NEW YORK -- Mike Lowell believes the best thing that could happen to him is to be released by the Red Sox, and not only because he would then be free to go somewhere else where he would play. He believes the Red Sox would be better off, too.
If it had been up to him, he said, he would have used David Ortiz even more than the Sox have, even though it would have cost him playing time.
"I literally eat up a roster spot,'' he said before stepping into the batting cage Tuesday afternoon. "I literally do. That's the way it is.
"I don't want to use [asking for his release] as leverage, it's just the reality of the situation they're in. When Jacoby [Ellsbury] and [Mike] Cameron come back, who do I hit for? There will not be one person in the lineup.
"The first baseman [Kevin Youkilis] and the third baseman [Adrian Beltre], they're two Gold Glovers. They never get batted for. I refuse to wish injuries to good players. That's so [expletive] terrible. I want to get playing time on my own.
"It's not good or bad, it's just reality. It's almost verbatim what I said in spring training. I'm not mad about my life. I'm just mad about the fact I put in a lot of work in the offseason to get where I am, and I'm not playing.''
So, why hasn't something happened? The obvious economic component. Release Lowell, and the Sox would be on the hook for all $12 million of his 2010 salary.
But the other reason -- having Lowell in reserve in case Ortiz is no longer a functional DH -- is losing its validity on a daily basis. Ortiz is hitting again -- he has three home runs in his last four games, has six home runs, 14 RBIs and a .348 average this month -- so the Sox are no longer sitting him against left-handers. Tuesday night, for example, he was in the lineup facing CC Sabathia, against whom he is the only Sox player to have gone deep more than once (he's done it twice).
So Lowell sits. Since he excited the masses with a 4-for-4 performance (three doubles) on May 3, when Ortiz was still in the throes of his slump, Lowell has made four starts. He has three hits in 17 at-bats, two of them as a pinch hitter. He worries about how the intermittent playing time is affecting his timing at the plate. He frets about the pinch-hit at-bat he had last week in Toronto, for example, against Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs.
"I watched that at-bat afterward, and he missed three spots on the video,'' Lowell said. "He gave me three pitches down the middle: a hanging curveball, a fastball right down the middle, and a slider that got a lot of the plate. You know what happens? I foul all three off.
"If that happens, that's fine, but that usually happens when you're not going good. So then, my consistency, I don't know. Is it more devalued? I got to believe it is.''
Back in spring training, Lowell thought the Sox might use him to acquire a backup infielder or perhaps for some bullpen help, but that opportunity passed because he was still recovering from thumb surgery. Now with teams having their rosters set, he's not sure what he might bring back in a deal, or how much value another club might place on him.
"Now I don't know what their [Sox] needs are,'' Lowell said. "That's not really my problem, either.
"I try to play well when I go in there. Like I said, I won't 'wow' you. I won't wow you playing defense. I won't wow you hitting. I grind it out. I'll get you a base knock, hit a couple of homers. I'm a producer that when [I'm] in there every day, at the end of the year you say, 'We got good production out of this guy.'
"I don't have that ['wow' factor]. I'll use Rocco [Baldelli], Rocco's a good example. He swings out of his butt and hits some big homers. I don't. I'm more like, I don't strike out very much or I'll hit a ground ball.''
Manager Terry Francona said Tuesday afternoon that Lowell has not come to him once since they met at the start of spring training to discuss his situation. Lowell affirmed that was the case.
"I'm not mad at Tito," he said. "I don't see why I have to go there. What am I going to go and tell him, play me more? Why? Who am I going to play for?
"Honestly, I actually agree with everything they have done. I actually would have played David more. I would have needed to see if he was really hurting or he was going to come out of it. That's why I think I pose a problem. It's like they feel they owed me at-bats against a lefty.
"It worked for a couple of days, but overall we all want David to be good. That's just a fact of our life. If we're going to have success, David needs to be good.''
But Lowell wants to play. It's not going to happen here, he is convinced. That's why he believes it would be best for him to be released.
If his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, have pressed Sox GM Theo Epstein for a resolution, they haven't told him. "And if there had been any conversation, I'm sure I would have known,'' he said.
"Will this spark a conversation? Maybe,'' he said.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.