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October 12, 2003

Mike Lowell


Q. Mike, you've told us all along you're a line drive hitter. But after two home runs in the series, can we call you a home run hitter now?

MIKE LOWELL: Not in my eyes. I've just never gotten to the plate really thinking I'm going to hit the ball out of the park. I just have this view of the real home run hitters, Sammy and Giambi, and guys like that. I think they go to the plate thinking they can hit the ball out. I don't. I feel like I can hit the ball hard and really don't cut down my swing with two strikes. I don't feel I'm a big strikeout guy. I try to make good contact. This year has been a little special for me in the case that they're going out of the park more often.

Q. Dusty was saying before that he thought no one hit the ball hard until your home run because of the twilight. Was it difficult to see the ball early in the game?

MIKE LOWELL: Yeah, without a doubt. 4 o'clock start, especially when that sun starts setting in the back, you get a big glare, and it's a big difference. It's tough to see, and I think you noticed a lot of guys check-swinging on fastballs. And I think that's an indication that the guys aren't picking up the ball well. The two guys today throw pretty hard, so there's not much margin for error. There's a point for about three innings it gets tough to see.

Q. When did you feel that everything was back, your timing, your strength, if it is back? You hit the Game 1 home run the other day. But the other night you hit two long shots in the opposite field, which you don't normally do. At what point did you feel it was back?

MIKE LOWELL: From a strength standpoint I thought I was back before this series started, right after that first, I guess, day off that we had in Chicago, I felt real good. And it's just a matter of seeing pitches, and kind of the pinch-hit role I was in, it's tough, because it's do-or-die at-bat. The last few games, I got in a rhythm that I'm more familiar with coming off the bench. I'm feeling good at the plate.

Q. It appears you're only hitting home runs now. Is that it for singles and doubles?

MIKE LOWELL: It's not my intention, but if it keeps going that way, I'll take it.

Q. Do you see any essential difference in the stuff that Beckett has and the stuff that either Prior or Wood have?

MIKE LOWELL: I think they're all three exceptional pitchers. I think they're the young guns of the National League for many years to come. Josh was outstanding tonight. He had all three pitches going. I think it's rare when you see a righty throwing a lot of changeups to righties and being as effective as he was. Prior and Wood, we've got our hands full the next few games. And I think we're going to scratch and claw and see if we can score more than they do.

Q. Zambrano is a demonstrative pitcher, he comes off the mound and he's screaming and yelling and he's excited. As a batter, when you hit the home run, was there extra satisfaction? Do people in the dugout notice those kinds of things today?

MIKE LOWELL: They see the emotion that he has when he gets off the mound. I don't think he shows anyone up. I don't think after a strikeout

he's staring guys down. He's an emotional guy. He's a young pitcher. He's got great stuff. And if that's what keeps him focused and keeps him going, I don't think we have a problem. I was satisfied just because it's a home run and we're in the playoffs. It doesn't really matter who's on the mound. I think it's a big moment when you have a big hit. Zambrano's going to be nails for a lot of years. He's got real good stuff. He doesn't really look like he puts too much effort into it. He's got a pretty smooth delivery, and the ball pops out of his hand pretty good.

Q. Let me guess that the manager spoke to you yesterday and told you that you were going in the lineup because he needed you to be a star the way the team was going. Is that right?

MIKE LOWELL: Well, unless Jack did it through osmosis, because he didn't say anything to me. I just came in today and looked at the lineup card and was in there. So I'm glad he showed the faith in me, especially since yesterday I don't think I had very solid at-bats. So, I don't know. He's been doing a lot of things right. I know he goes to church a lot and maybe he sent a blessing my way to have a good day today.

Q. Obviously a do-or-die situation, but how badly did you guys need that kind of starting effort as opposed to win a 9-8 or 10-9 game?

MIKE LOWELL: I think it was huge. The fact that we got out of the first inning with no runs was big for us. I don't think we've done that this series yet. It put us on an even playing field before we took the swing, ourselves. But Josh was outstanding. His stuff was electrifying, he was hitting the spots, big pitches in big situations. It was big. We're going to need two more quality starts if we're going to make a run at this. I hope it doesn't stop there.

Q. How is your hand? Does it hurt at all, especially when you're hitting against a guy who's throwing the mid-90's, and connecting against those pitches?

MIKE LOWELL: No, I think right at that four-week spot when I started taking batting practice, I noticed a big difference between live pitching and hitting off the tee. But I think it's been about six weeks now. I'd say for a good week I don't feel any difference. I really don't concentrate much on the hand at all. And I think that's a good thing. It's allowing me to focus on my swing. But there is a big difference I'd say in the last two weeks, it's gotten progressively better, and I notice a difference each day.

Q. Mike, you mentioned the need for two more quality starts. It looks like Pavano is going to be the guy on Tuesday for you. What are your thoughts about him being out there?

MIKE LOWELL: Well, I think he looked great yesterday. He's a guy who is surprisingly throwing harder in the second half of the season than he did when he started. He's going to have some zip on his fastball. He's tough, he has a good slider, a good changeup. I think his role is to keep hitters off balance. And he's going to work on changing speeds. I feel confident. I think he's got what it takes.

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