10/20/2003 7:16 PM ET
Trading places just fine for Lowell
Once a Yankee, third baseman happy to be a Marlin
MIAMI -- Mike Lowell isn't a vindictive kind of guy, so it's safe to assume he's not using this World Series to play a game of "I'll show you" with the New York Yankees.
But at the same time, he's not oblivious to the irony that he's gunning for a World Series ring against a team that won two World Series championships after they traded him in 1999.
Lowell, a 20th round draft draft pick of the Yankees in 1995, played in eight games with his parent club in 1998 before the Yankees traded him to Florida that winter for Mark Johnson, Ed Yarnall and Todd Noel. The exchange, obviously lopsided in the Marlins' favor, worked for both sides. Lowell, a Miami native, had a chance to play every day in his hometown, and the Yankees were able to turn their full attention to third baseman Scott Brosius, who had just signed a three-year deal.
More than four years later, Lowell is grateful that the Yankees traded him. In fact, he took the transaction as a compliment.
"(Brosius) was coming on after a good year," Lowell said. "And I didn't want to go back to Triple-A. I welcomed the trade. It was nice for the Yankees to realize I was ready to play in the big leagues, just not on their team."
Yankees manager Joe Torre was one of the first to notice.
"We knew he was going to be a big player," Torre said. "It was just one of those things, in New York, you really don't have a lot of patience for 'I'm not sure if this guy needs another year.' Especially when you have somebody who's already done it for you in Brosius. It was a good decision, I think for both parties. Brosius did well for us, the remaining time he was there. And Mike had an opportunity to play every day."
Over four seasons with the Marlins, Lowell, 29, hit .273 while emerging as a defensively-sound third baseman. He overcame testicular cancer in 1999 and reached his pinnacle in 2002 when he was selected to the National League All-Star team.
Still, he never forgot where he started. In fact, he remembers his first big league hit like it was yesterday, even though it was five years ago during a game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
"There were like 55,000 (fans) there," Lowell remembered. "I just read the lineup card and I was hitting. I hadn't played in about seven days, and Kelvim Escobar was on the mound. I knew his 95 (mph pitch) would probably look at little harder.
"I mean, I crushed a broken bat single up the middle and it blooped in. It was as cheap a hit as it can come. I was 1-for-1. They put up on the big Jumbotron that was my first hit, in my first big league at-bat. I got a great ovation.
"Jose Cardenal was the first base coach. I told him that I had goosebumps. I told him, 'If I retire now, at least I'll have a 1.000 batting average.' I guess I continued and it steadily dropped from that point on."
But not by much. Not only is he a proven Major Leaguer, it looks like he'll be an anchor of the Marlins' lineup in ensuing seasons.
Even so, Lowell did give himself a moment to wonder what might have been, had he remained a Yankee.
"I think it's human nature to look and see the team and picture yourself -- just because I came up through the organization -- and see all the rings they've won," he said. "You obviously would want to be a part of that. But at the time of the trade for me, it was actually something pretty good."
The Marlins, on the eve of their first home game of the World Series, would have to agree.
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.