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Healthy Lowell returns to lineup

Healthy Lowell returns to lineup

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TORONTO -- Mike Lowell wasn't just back in the lineup Friday night for the first time since June 25, but he was feeling better than at any point since undergoing right hip surgery last October.

As it turns out, the near three weeks of rest that the Red Sox and Lowell plotted out leading into the All-Star break turned out to be the perfect remedy.

The veteran third baseman was excited to be back for Friday night's opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays.

"I think I feel better than two months ago, to be honest with you," said Lowell. "The stability is really good. I was able to get some work in over the break, which was nice, as well as some nice family time, so I think both things were accomplished. I'm just really excited. I feel good. This will be a nice first test -- turf and everything."

In Lowell's second at-bat, he laced a single off the base of the wall in left field.

"We're thrilled to have Mike back," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "The Synvisc injections seemed to have gone really well. He's moving around a lot better and swinging the bat, at least in BP, better, then, I think, he had maybe at any point in the season. Obviously that remains to be seen, once the games start. But he's feeling good about himself, he looks healthy and adds a lot to this ballclub, so we're happy to have him back."

Lowell said he will be smart with his hip and not carry too much of a load, which was probably the case when he played 58 of the season's first 60 games.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona will work with Lowell to determine what is best.

"I think, certainly as he's coming back, I need to be cognizant of that and I need him to communicate with me," said Francona. "But he moved around really well last night, better than we've seen in a long time. I will certainly be aware of trying to keep it that way. But I don't know if I'm going to say he needs to sit next Sunday a week ahead of time. I don't know if that makes a lot of sense."

After having the fluid drained from his hip last month, Lowell is confident he will regain the mobility he was lacking on defense.

"I know that first step was not as explosive as I wanted it to be before, but taking ground balls yesterday, it was as good as I have felt all year," Lowell said. "I'm not looking for that to be a problem."

What will he add to the team?

"Nonstop homers, endless RBIs and days full of fun," quipped Lowell.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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