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Lowell isn't hiding his feelings on trick play

PHOENIX -- Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell did not see Julio Lugo tag out an unsuspecting Alberto Callaspo Friday night, but he was ready to pronounce judgment on the play.

"That's not a real hidden-ball trick," Lowell said yesterday , "although I'm sure the stats say it is."

Lugo tagged out Callaspo when he strayed off second base, not realizing that Lugo -- who had taken a throw from right fielder J.D. Drew -- had not returned the ball to pitcher Josh Beckett, even though Beckett said afterward he was calling for the ball.

"I saw it on the replay," Lowell said, "I didn't see it while it was going on."

Lugo said once before he'd executed a similar play, but said the umpire missed it. "I try it all the time," he said. "It just didn't work.

"The umpire [Chris Guccione] was right on top of the play."

Lowell executed a similar play in 2005, when he was with Florida, and it also came against Arizona, when the third baseman tagged out Luis Terrero, who also strayed off the bag with Lowell still in possession of the ball. Why, then, was Lowell's play superior to Lugo's?

"Because [Lugo] didn't have to do anything," Lowell said. "[Pitcher Todd ] Jones had to sell it more than anyone.

"Jonesie, the only reason I didn't get rid of the ball was he was backing up home plate. I wasn't going to throw it to him. So I just waited. Then I glanced over to third and the third base coach and Terrero were both looking down at the time. So I said, I'll just walk over until Jonesie gets to the mound. If he asks for the ball, I'm going to give it to him. But we made eye contact and he saw me, then he walked around the mound, he's at the back, he started stretching. We were, honestly, about three seconds away from just forgetting about it because we couldn't wait anymore. And right there [Terrero] took a step off the bag, and it worked out."

Carlos Tosca, the Arizona third base coach, came up to Lowell the next day and thanked him, Lowell said. "I said, 'Dude, I'm sorry,' " Lowell said, "and he said, 'No, I'll never take my eye off the ball when I got my runner on third.' "

Early night
Jon Lester lasted just 2 2/3 innings last night in his latest rehab start with Pawtucket, as manager Ron Johnson evidently decided the lefthander was better off not laboring beyond the 70 pitches he threw to get eight outs. Lester allowed Ottawa three runs on five hits, and left trailing, 3-0. His rehab assignment cannot go past June 18, so it would appear he'll make at least one more start before his call-up . . . Manny Ramírez, who was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Arizona righthander Edgar Gonzalez Friday night, was not in the lineup last night. Manager Terry Francona said he was giving Ramírez the day off, and that his hand was OK. Ramirez lay in the dirt for some seconds after being hit. "I was real concerned," Francona said. "But he was smiling when he got up. He's OK. He's available to pinch hit." Eric Hinske started in left field, while Kevin Youkilis, playing third while Lowell sits, was installed in the cleanup spot. Hinske batted seventh, with Jason Varitek occupying Lowell's usual No. 6 spot . . . Francona said he wasn't sure how he'd be using reliever Mike Timlin, who was activated last night, with J.C. Romero designated for assignment. "That's not very enjoyable for anybody," Francona said of speaking with Romero. "He said he understood the business part of it. But he obviously was disappointed. I'd be shocked if he wasn't." . . . Closer Jonathan Papelbon hadn't pitched since giving up Alex Rodriguez's game-winning home run last Sunday against the Yankees . . . The visiting clubhouse in Chase Field has arcade games and video games. Wily Mo Peña was among the Sox players who took a crack at "Big Buck Hunter," an arcade game in which players aim plastic guns at the screen, while Daisuke Matsuzaka played a more sedate round of "Asteroids."

Channeling Manny?
After reading David Ortiz's claim that he didn't know Curt Schilling had a no-hitter in progress Thursday , reader Bill Chuck e-mailed: "The fact that Big Papi was not aware of Schilling's no-hitter until one down in the ninth can only be attributed to David being Manny." . . . Sox infielder Alex Cora was dubious of Ortiz's claim. "How many people were at that game?" Cora asked. "Thirty thousand? Twenty-five guys on their side, and 24 . . . he was the only guy not watching the game." . . . Jayson Stark on made a compelling case that Schilling ranks among the best pitchers in the last 40 years or so never to throw a no-hitter or win a Cy Young Award. Schilling doesn't have a no-no, but has three one-hitters. Only Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina, with four apiece, have more among active pitchers. Schilling hasn't won a Cy Young Award, but has finished second three times. He has won 20 games three times but each time at least one other pitcher in his league did so. He has struck out 300 or more three times, but twice in seasons in which another pitcher in his league struck out 300 or more. He has finished in the top three in ERA nine times, but has never won an ERA title . . . Schilling came within Shannon Stewart's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth of becoming the fifth pitcher 40 or older to throw a no-hitter. Cy Young did it in 1908, Warren Spahn in 1961, Nolan Ryan had two (1990 and '91), and Johnson threw a perfect game in 2004.

Power pitcher
Matsuzaka took batting practice Friday, Japanese reporters recording his every swing, and drove a ball that hit the 413-foot sign in left-center, about the same spot that J. D. Drew hit one a little farther for a home run that night. Bench coach Brad Mills pitched to Matsuzaka. Asked if he was throwing his "A" stuff, Mills said, "I don't have 'A' stuff. All my stuff is 'D' stuff. But he has a pretty good swing." Matsuzaka played in the Japan Pacific League, which like the American League employs the designated hitter. But he hit one home run in interleague play. Today, however, he will be facing Johnson. In his career, Johnson has faced the opposing pitcher 443 times, and no pitcher has ever taken him deep. Opposing pitchers are batting .077 (34 for 443) against him, with just six doubles and one triple. He has walked the pitcher 13 times . . . Don't think for a moment that the Sox don't take their clubhouse cribbage games seriously. When Lowell was reminded that Francona said he was far and away the best player in the room, Lowell responded: "Anyone who toots their own horn, it's just a mark of insecurity and mediocrity." Lowell seethed when Dustin Pedroia, during a recent Fox telecast, identified himself as Dustin "I own Mike Lowell in cribbage" Pedroia. Said Lowell, "A few days later, I got a package in the mail. It was from a guy who said he writes books on cribbage. He sent me one, he said, so I can own Dustin the way he said he owned me." Lowell said, and Pedroia ruefully confirmed, that the third baseman won the next eight games they played after Pedroia made his televised boast.

Getting picky
The Red Sox drafted 47 players in 46 rounds of the amateur draft, electing not to make any selections in the last four rounds. They selected 25 pitchers, 12 infielders, 5 outfielders, and 5 catchers. Twenty-five of their picks were high schoolers, 22 were collegians. The Sox drafted two New England players, both catchers. Daniel Milano, a senior out of Northeastern University who hit 13 home runs and drove in 48 runs, was taken in the 20th round. Milano is originally from Cumberland, R.I. The other New Englander was Mike Bourdon, out of Northwest Catholic High in West Hartford, in the 41st round . The Sox, whose 2006 draft was rated the best in the majors by Baseball America, also spent more money to sign drafted players, more than $8 million, according to the trade publication. The Sox have demonstrated a willingness to draft players in later rounds that were projected to go much higher but slid because of signability issues. They drafted at least two such players this year, according to Baseball America: catcher Yasmani Grandal, a switch hitter out of Miami Springs High, in the 27th round; and high school righthander Nick Tepesch, out of Blue Springs (Mo.) High, in the 29th round. Both players reportedly projected as potential first-round sandwich picks. The Sox, who did not have a first-round pick, used their first selection (55th overall) to take University of Washington star Nick Hagadone, who was a closer for the Huskies but like Papelbon is expected to at least begin his minor league apprenticeship as a starter. Boston's second pick (62d overall) was Ryan Dent, a high school shortstop from Long Beach, Calif., who had committed to UCLA but told the Long Beach Press Telegram he is eager to begin his pro career. One of Dent's best attributes is his speed; from the right side, he has been clocked under 4.1 seconds from home to first. One reader suggested Sox fans might have some trouble warming up to Dent. "Infielders named Dent cause me to reflexively cringe," Sox fan John Burkart, living in New York, wrote in an e-mail. No, this Dent isn't related to Bucky.