For a player who has been in Boston for just two years, third baseman Mike Lowell sure seems entrenched with the Red Sox. Aside from captain Jason Varitek, it is hard to think of a player on the team who has more universal respect for the way he approaches the game than Lowell, who is the consummate professional.
Like any true leader, Lowell doesn't try to be one or claim he is one.
"I don't know about 'leader,'" said Lowell. "Everyone has their own definition of that. Clubhouse guy? Yeah, because I feel like I'm one of the guys. And this dates back to high school. I remember my high school baseball team, on Saturdays after we had our workout, we would go eight, 10, 12 of us to the beach and we'd all hang out together. I've just always liked that camaraderie. I think most guys like that. We go to a new city and say 'Hey, who wants to go eat?' We have to go make a reservation for 15. I think that can only help."
Part of the reason Lowell is such a glue in the clubhouse is because he speaks both English and Spanish. Lowell's father, Carl, is Cuban, and Lowell grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. This enables Lowell to speak as comfortably around David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez as he does with Dustin Pedroia and Curt Schilling.
While the baseball season is a roller-coaster ride for most, Lowell manages to stay on the most even of keels imaginable. Judging by his quick wit or facial expressions, it's hard to tell whether he went 0-for-4 or 5-for-5. Part of the perspective Lowell has, he admits, comes from his successful victory over testicular cancer back in 1999.
"I think the core of who you are stays what it is," Lowell said. "But I think being 23, to get hit with something like that, most people don't really deal with a life-changing thing like that until a little older, maybe the death of a parent, something like that. I think it put baseball in a certain perspective for me, of where it really is important and it's about fifth on the list of things instead of No. 1. I think it made me appreciate things a little bit more."
Lowell is a free agent at the end of the season, but it would be hard to imagine the 2008 Red Sox without him.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.