FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Lowell didn’t come to cut down Rafael Devers and dwell on his deficiencies, but he did come to praise him after watching him play third base.
Lowell, the 2007 World Series MVP for Boston, was asked to work with Devers for a few days by his former teammate, Alex Cora. Lowell, who works for MLB Network as an analyst, was more than happy to do it, and Wednesday he spoke of how much he misses being in uniform and how much he’d love to coach or manage someday.
If Lowell didn’t want to spend most of his free time with his children, he’d likely be on Cora’s coaching staff now.
“I told Alex I’m ready,” Lowell said. “He said, ‘It’s 162 games,’ and I said, ‘I’m not that ready.’ ”
But Lowell didn’t shy away from his desire to manage.
“I think I’d love to, but it has to be at the right time in my life,” he said. “I’m actually managing sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Westminster Warriors [near Miami]. I’m giving them vast knowledge on how to take a secondary lead and throw strikes.
“I’m enjoying my kids. I’m spoiled in that sense. I’m seeing my daughter’s activities and volleyball games and my son’s baseball games, and I don’t think I’d be able to do that full-time with a team.
“I don’t want to close that door in the future because I really enjoy it. I don’t take it lightly that Alex and Dave Dombrowski want me to come here. When I drove over here, I get excited like when I was driving from Miami to come to spring training as a player.”
Devers, the Red Sox’ 21-year-old phenom third baseman, has a fan in Lowell. And Devers said he knew who Lowell was, even though Lowell said, “I think he was 14 when I retired.”
The two have been speaking Spanish as they bond. Lowell has watched Devers closely, has watched his technique as a fielder and has certainly been impressed by his hitting.
When asked what needed to be fixed defensively Lowell answered, “I don’t think he needs anything to be fixed. He needs repetitions. He’s 21. I remember at 21 I was swinging an aluminum bat and nervous about playing ranked teams.
“His physical skills are so far along for the amount of reps he’s had that he’s at a stage where he can soak up a lot of good things. I tried to do my homework as much as I could. I had [video coordinator] Billy Broadbent send me basically every ground ball he got last year.
“I don’t want to be that guy who shows up for a few days and starts picking him apart. He does not have fundamental flaws in his defense. He needs repetition so he can repeat the good things he does more often.
“He has excellent arm strength and he moves around well for a guy his size. It’s more talking about the adjustments and angles. It’s more conversation than fundamental things.
“I try to keep things simple. I think he’s much more athletic than I was. I tried to put myself into the easiest position possible to make the out.”
Lowell said experience will teach Devers about opposing hitters and how fast they are.
“We just talked a couple of times about things like if you have a catcher up who doesn’t run well and he hits a chopper, we don’t have to charge in and make the off-balance throw,” Lowell said. “Charge in, field it, and set your feet. It’s more an understanding of the situation of the game.
“Once again, being 20, thrust into Fenway Park and every part of your game is dissected is a big adjustment. Jokingly I said, ‘You keep hitting home runs, you won’t have to worry about anything.’
“But he can be such a well-rounded player that he can wear this uniform for 10-plus years and be a big factor. I’ve enjoyed working with him so far. He’s very receptive to the fact that he wants to learn.”
Lowell was impressed with Devers’s size (he is listed by the Sox at 6 feet, 195 pounds).
“He’s a lot bigger than I thought,” Lowell said. “He’s big in a good way. He’s put together.
“I started off asking him questions. Do you move to your left better or to your right better? And his answers were everything I saw. At least we’re on the same page.
“He told me he was better to his left and so that’s fine. You can cheat one step here or there, and you have to understand Xander [Bogaerts’s] range and that kind of helps you out in that maybe you get to four or five more balls that you couldn’t.
“I told him, ‘Don’t make lazy errors. Don’t kick yourself after the fact.’ He gets it. At 20, you’re going to make lazy errors, but most 20-year-olds are in Greensboro, N.C., in A ball. He’s doing it in front of a lot of people.”
Lowell said Devers will have a strong support group starting with Cora, coach Ramon Vazquez, and third base coach Carlos Febles, all of whom speak Spanish
“The finer details won’t get lost in translation,” said Lowell. “And I think that’s a key having a guy like Alex who can make his points to the guys who speak Spanish and the guys who speak English. I think that’s a big deal.”
It’s been a fun couple of days for Lowell, who in 2006 was traded to Boston from the Marlins in a deal that sent Hanley Ramirez to Miami. He said he always felt a bond with Ramirez, who works out in Miami, where Lowell lives. He feels as though they have been teammates.
Lowell wasn’t with the Red Sox very long, but they were impactful seasons. He won a championship, and he played with class and dignity. The fans watching workouts Wednesday cheered him every time he walked by.
It made Lowell feel good again. It made him wonder when and if he’ll do this for a living again.