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June 26, 2007

Red Sox shortstop of the future impresses in Manchester visit

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Jed Lowrie snapped a piece of Double Bubble gum as he completed the routine.



Portland's switch-hitting shortstop, who wore a pair of neon colored sunglasses, swung deliberately, rapping ball after ball off a tee and into a small net propped against the backstop.



"The repetition helps me feel some things out," the 23-year-old said before the Sea Dogs defeated the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5-4 in front of a crowd of 6,831 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium last night.



After the short session, Lowrie trotted over to an autograph seeker hanging out by the visitors dugout.



"When are they going to call you up?" the teenager asked. "I bet you'd do better than Julio Lugo."



Lowrie smiled. "It's not up to me," he responded.



All he can do, he said, is focus on his own skills, which have been on display of late. His compact swing and keen eye for the strike zone have drawn comparisons to current Red Sox Kevin Youkilis.



In Lowrie's first year at Class AA Portland, he is hitting .305 with 35 RBIs. His OBP (.412 coming in to last night) is impressive, and for one stretch this season, he reached base safely in 38 straight games. When the Sea Dogs played the Trenton Thunder this spring, he went 2 for 2 (with two doubles) off a rehabbing Roger Clemens.



There are times, Lowrie said, he looks at the big club in Boston and wonders where he'd fit in. Lugo, his major league counterpart, came into last night's game against the Mariners hitting .193.



"It's hard not to (wonder). That's where you want to be," said Lowrie, who was named the Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Month for May. "But you're here for a reason. Those guys are in Boston for a reason."



...



To his teammates, Lowrie is known as a student of hitting.



"He's what I call a consummate professional," outfielder Jay Johnson said. "He always hits strikes, he's got a lot of pop, and he's never swinging off of his (rear end)."



Lowrie began to hone his now polished swing at North Salem (Ore.) High School, learning to switch hit as a schoolboy. He read "The Science of Hitting," the book Ted Williams wrote with John Underwood. In the classroom, Lowrie excelled, scoring a 1,210 in the two-part SAT.



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