VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Derek Lowe remembers when he believed a good season was measured simply by wins, losses and ERA.
Now, at 34 and having gone through the ups and downs of any player his age, Lowe's perspective has changed dramatically.
``Individually, it really doesn't matter,'' he said at the Dodgers' spring training camp Sunday. ``You pitch to help your team get to the playoffs, not to pad your own stats. My whole three years here have been disappointing. We're all here to win playoff games.''
Lowe did just that in 2004, winning the clinching game of all three postseason series to help the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years. He joined the Dodgers that offseason, signing a $36 million, four-year contract.
``Being here the last three years, you do feel somewhat responsible for not getting your team a playoff victory,'' he said. ``We're not going to let the embarrassment of the last two months of last year carry over to this year.
to get this franchise back to where it should be.''
The Dodgers had the NL's best record in mid-July last year, but lost 11 of their last 14 games to fall out of postseason contention. During the slide, discontent surfaced in the clubhouse between some of the youngsters and veterans.
``That's a situation you'd rather keep in-house,'' Lowe said. ``Everybody learned from it and we're not going to let it happen again.''
The Red Sox won eight straight games after falling behind the Yankees 3-0 in the 2004 AL championship series. New York's manager was Joe Torre, who has taken over as the Dodgers' skipper.
``His ability to get everyone on the same page I think is his biggest strength,'' Lowe said. ``He kind of hit on that (Thursday), getting us all on the same page. That's what I look forward to the most.''
Torre knows what Lowe can do, having seen it firsthand when the Yankees played the Red Sox.
``He's a grinder who takes the ball and doesn't seem to be distracted,'' Torre said. ``He's a blue-collar guy who pitches as long as he's needed. He makes the ball sink, and it's tough to do anything with. We found out the hard way in '04 - he beat me in Game 7 (of the ALCS).
``He seems to be a good teammate. He's a free spirit, we all know that, but he seems to be able to separate the two.''
on the disabled list. His 92 wins in the last six seasons rank third in the majors, behind Houston's Roy Oswalt (98) and Toronto's Roy Halladay (93).
Lowe said he'd like to return to the Dodgers next season, but no discussions have been held concerning a contract extension.
``Oh, yeah, you want to come back to any situation where you feel like you have a chance to win,'' he said. ``(But) never is there a day where I wake up and say, `Today's the day something's going to get going.'
``Your goal is to win. It's not to look down the road.''
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he had a brief conversation with Lowe's agent, Scott Boras, about a year ago.
``We'll see how the year goes,'' Colletti said. ``I like what he brings to the club. I like his competitiveness, his durability. I respect who be is.
``I'm not closing the door on him being a Dodger. I don't suspect we'll get anything done until after the season.''
While that seems OK with Lowe right now, it apparently didn't sit well during his final year with the Red Sox.
``I put a lot of pressure in Boston about the last year, and I pitched awful,'' he recalled. ``I learned that trying too hard and trying to prove myself to way too many people didn't work. I've learned from it.
``The stuff off the field will take care of itself, one way or another.''
Before his postseason heroics in 2004, Lowe went 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA - nearly two runs higher than his lifetime ERA of 3.81.
Lowe was 12-14 with a 3.88 ERA last season. Like his team, he was much better before the All-Star break (3.12 ERA) than he was after (5.23 ERA).
He said he worked harder during the just-completed offseason than he had since joining the Dodgers, and believes that will pay off for him and his team this season.
``I feel as good as I have in a long time,'' he said.
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