March 1, 2013

Mike Lowell makes guest appearance for Miami Marlins

Former Marlin Mike Lowell donned the uniform again, serving as a guest instructor for a few days as a favor to manager Mike Redmond, his former teammate.

For the first time since being traded in 2005, Mike Lowell on Thursday put on the Marlins’ uniform again. Only now it reads “Miami” instead of “Florida” across the front and its colors are black and orange instead of black and teal.

“It’s like a totally new uniform,” Lowell said, “but it was cool because [team equipment manager John Silverman] put a 19 with my name on it.”

Lowell returned at the bequest of friend, manager and former teammate Mike Redmond to spend a few days serving as a guest instructor, and he saw a lot of familiar faces from the 2003 World Series team, including Jack McKeon, Lenny Harris, Jeff Conine and Juan Pierre.

Lowell touched on a number of topics with reporters during his visit, including management’s decision to trade off salary in exchange for less expensive talent in a rebuilding move.

Lowell said he empathizes with angry fans, especially given that the latest sell-off came the same year the new ballpark opened.

“I think you just had so much hope, that you’d been wanting this for 15 years, and you get it, and it seemed like it didn’t last very long,” he said. “I think ownership has to understand at least where the fans come from because I don’t think the fans are totally wrong in that situation. There was so much excitement over the stadium, over the team, over the craziness. And it seems like it was just a rental. And that’s frustrating for fans.”

He said it will likely be difficult for the Marlins to sign marquee free agents in the future unless the team relaxes its policy regarding allowing no-trade protection in contracts.

“If you don’t think players read contracts and see that Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle in the first year of a long-term deal got traded, they’re going to think twice about it,” Lowell said. “It’ll definitely be an issue.”

Lowell said it’s too soon to declare the new ballpark unfavorable to hitters, but if it continues to play that way, they might have to bring in the fences like the Mets did at Citi Field in order to attract better hitters.

“If it’s a bona fide graveyard, that’s a major factor,” Lowell said.

Lowell said when he was a free agent and was talking to the Dodgers and Phillies in case the Red Sox didn’t re-sign him, the Phillies had the edge over the Dodgers because of their ballpark.

“I mean, the Dodgers might have been a better team, but you almost want to be in a situation where you can live up to the money they paid you,” Lowell said. “And for me, the Phillies were ahead of the Dodgers if it didn’t work out with the Red Sox because it’s a better park to hit in.”

Lowell, like pretty much everyone else, is in awe of Giancarlo Stanton.

On Thursday, Lowell was seated next to the dugout and had a close-up look when Stanton tripled, doubled, singled and walked in four plate appearances.

“I’d love to know what the bat [feels like] in his hands, what would be the equivalent of the bat I would use so it feels like it does for him,” Lowell said. “And I’m scared it might be like a 12-ounce bat — maybe like The Flintstones whiffle bats. It would feel like that.”

Lowell said he doesn’t think the Marlins will be as bad this season as most seem to think.

“I think there’s a lot more talent than people think on this team,” he said. “I think the stereotype is there’s no chance of winning here, and I don’t think that’s the case. They’re not major signings, but I think there’s a carryover effect when you see Juan Pierre and [Placido] Polanco give quality at-bats. Young guys see that.”

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