Money likely hang-up in Lowell talks

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A baseball source said Wednesday that talks between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers over infielder Mike Lowell had accelerated and a trade remained a possibility. But by late Wednesday night, the source reported the sides were no closer to a deal.

"I don't think it's going to happen,'' the source said.

Earlier in the day, Lowell reinforced his case that he can still be a useful hitter with two doubles in Boston's 14-6 exhibition win over Baltimore in Sarasota.

The Rangers have been scouting Lowell regularly since he started playing this spring, and have a clear need for a backup first baseman and insurance behind Vladimir Guerrero as a right-handed designated hitter.

But the circumstances have changed since last December, when the Rangers agreed to a deal for Lowell in which they were willing to absorb $3 million of the $12 million on the infielder's contract, a deal later voided when it was discovered Lowell needed surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Lowell, who sustained the injury on the last weekend of the 2009 season, did not have surgery until Dec. 30 and was unable to resume baseball activities for nearly two months. In an interview last Saturday, he lamented the timing of the surgery, saying it deprived him of a chance to show interested teams that he was healthy.

The Rangers, meanwhile, signed Guerrero to serve as their designated hitter and, with other roster moves, essentially spent the $3 million once earmarked for Lowell.

Lowell's playing opportunities with Boston figure to be few, barring an injury to designated hitter David Ortiz or corner infielders Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre.

It may be that the Rangers are engaged in a high-stakes poker game with the Red Sox to see how much of Lowell's salary Boston will eat to make the deal. But for now, money remains the hang-up to executing a deal, and Lowell remains with the Red Sox.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.