When the Indians designated Derek Lowe for assignment, Lowe called his agent to say he might not be intersted in another contract. His past two months had been awful, and Lowe didn’t want to go through that again.
“I was honest with myself and honest with Scott Boras,” Lowe said today, after being officially added to the Yankees roster. “I said, ‘I’m not going to go back if I cant figure out what I have to change. I’m not going to go keep pitching the way I was.’ It was actually a blessing in a way to be able to go back down to Fort Myers and work with the guy I normally always work with and get straightened out. I called Scott last Wednesday and said, ‘I feel good enough to be able to go back and pitch the way I should.’”
Lowe had pitched well through the season’s first two months. After a strong start on June 1, he had a 7-3 record with 3.06 ERA for the Indians. He wasn’t walking many guys, he was generating a ton of groundballs and things seemed to be working out. From there, though, Lowe went 1-7 with an 8.77 ERA through his 10 starts, and it was those numbers that prompted his release.
“I’m a huge tinkerer,” Lowe said. “I have done it my whole career. I try to fix things mechanically, and one little tinker turns into two, turns in to — basically, you almost get lost. I’ve done it my whole career. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Any time you’re a sinkerball pitcher and it’s flat, you’re going to do a lot of backing up bases and that’s what I did. This was a great opportunity. It kind of came out of nowhere. It happened in literally about 10 minutes. Scott called — we had been talking to four other teams — he called and said, this is an opportunity. Within 10 minutes, it was done.”
Lowe said he’d heard from the Giants, Phillies, Orioles and Red Sox before the Yankees swooped in to sign the deal. He never threw a bullpen for any of the team making offers.
“I literally said, ‘I need a repeatable delivery,’” Lowe said. “There were some obvious glaring things I even knew that I was doing, that (former pitching coach) Scott Radinsky knew I was doing, but the side sessions weren’t long enough to fix it. (Being DFA’d) was the worst thing that could have happened because in 20 years I’ve never been watching the game, but you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You have to get back to work. It was great to be able to spend two or three hours really understanding what you were doing wrong and how to correct it. … I’ve always been a tinkerer, so it doesn’t take a long time. It takes a good two or three days of hard work getting back right, looking at video and realizing what you have to do. I’ve pitched out of the bullpen before, I’ve never had a problem with my arm as far as pitching back-to-back days. This is a great team, so I’m just trying to come in here and pitch when needed.”
• Mariano Rivera threw off flat ground today, but he’s still not expected back this season. “I don’t see it happening,” Joe Girardi said. “… Larry told me that he threw well and he looked pretty good. When you’re a baseball player and you can’t do the thing that you used to do, as soon as you can do it, you try it. That’s probably what Mo did.”
• Alex Rodriguez will get another X-ray on his broken left hand, but Girardi wasn’t sure whether it would happen today or tomorrow. If it happens today, it won’t be until closer to game time.
• David Phelps has been cleared for 75-80 pitches. Girardi said he’s hoping for five innings out of him. For now, Lowe is the long man behind Phelps. “Any time that someone comes out of our bullpen, you always have a chance to work your way back to the back of the games,” Girardi said. “That’s happened. We’ve seen it happen with Cody Eppley. We’ve seen it happen with David Robertson over the years. Our initial thought is (Lowe)’s going to be a long reliever, but I never count anything out.”
• Eric Chavez is back in the lineup, batting fifth and playing third base. Girardi said there are no lingering concerns about Chavez’s sore back.
• Batting Ichiro Suzuki ninght was strictly about splitting those bottom-of-the-order lefties a little bit, and about keeping Nick Swisher in the No. 2 spot. “The one thing we’re always considering is how do you break up the four left handers in the last five,” Girardi said. “And we figured that was the way to do it. Swish has done a very good job in the two hole. Chavy did a nice job in the five hole. Grandy did a nice job in the six hole. We’re just trying to break up the lefties. It’s not easy when four out of the last five guys are left-handed. It’s just the way we chose to do it.”
• As expected, Ryota Igarashi was optioned back to Triple-A to open a roster spot for Lowe. There was no 40-man move necessary.
• Girardi on the importance of these games against the Rangers: “I think it’s extremely important because the two best records in the American League are the teams that are playing tonight. What every team strives to do is to get into the playoffs, win your division and then to have home-field advantage. And these games could determine a lot of that.”
Associated Press photos