Lowrie Adding To Versatility

Despite hitting .298/.393/.503 between Double-A and Triple-A last year, 23-year-old Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie has no place to play in the majors. So the Red Sox are trying to create as many places for Lowrie to play in case they need him this season by having him practice his fielding at the other infield positions, although they intend to keep shortstop as his primary position.

“Yeah, definitely,” said Lowrie, in his second big league camp after filling in during the World Baseball Classic in 2006. “I feel like I’m still a young shortstop. I’ve still got a lot to learn at short. I take the majority of my ground balls at shortstop but still mixing in some second and even some third, and they’ve even talked maybe some first base. So I just kind of roll with it, but I know that short is where I want to stay, and that’s where I’m going to get the majority of my work.”

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“We’re still going to stress the ability to play shortstop every day at the Triple-A level if he doesn’t make the major league club,” said Mike Hazen, Sox minor league director. “We’ll probably sprinkle in some second base and third base to give him — as we’ve said to him — the most opportunity to make our big league club at some point, whether it’s out of spring training or thereafter over the course of the season. So the ability to play third and second is going to be crucial for him, although he’ll still be a primary shortstop because that’s still the most difficult position to play. Offensively, there’s not a lot with Jed that we have to do from a development standpoint. Fundamentally, he’s got very sound mechanics from both sides of the plate.”

Shortstop Julio Lugo has been bothered by some lower back stiffness in spring training, but he is expected to be the starter once the regular season begins. Lugo struggled to a .237/.294/.349 season last year in 570 at-bats, but the 32-year-old still has three years remaining on his contract plus a vesting option for 2011 from the four-year, $36 million deal he signed last off-season. The Red Sox control second baseman Dustin Pedroia‘s rights for the next five years, and the team re-signed 33-year-old third baseman Mike Lowell to a three-year, $37.5 million deal in the off-season.

Spending some time at second base wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Lowrie, who played the position during his college years at Stanford as recently as 2005. And one area where the Red Sox minor league depth chart is currently lacking is third base. The only other third baseman among the Red Sox top 30 prospects is 17-year-old Michael Almanzar, who signed for $1.5 million last year out of the Dominican Republic and has yet to play a professional game.