The Dodgers, like every other Major League team, really have two spring camps happening side by side. There's the one where established players such as ace Clayton Kershaw and slugger Matt Kemp warm up for the regular season, and then there's the camp for guys who are simply fighting for a spot on the big league club. Veteran reliever Mark Lowe falls squarely into the latter category.
Lowe made his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2006. He played with Seattle until he was sent to Texas in 2010 as a part of the Cliff Lee trade. His stint with the Rangers ended after a strained muscle in his right side limited him to 36 appearances last year. After weighing a handful of options, the potential of the talent-laden Dodgers led Lowe to sign a Minor League deal with the club.
"They're going to be a winning team, first and foremost," he said. "I've been on both sides of it. I've been on really good teams and I've been on really bad teams, and when you win, it makes things a lot more fun."
The Dodgers already had a deep bullpen before signing Lowe, but as manager Don Mattingly pointed out, relievers can fluctuate from one season to the next. Trying out free agents such as Lowe and fellow right-hander Kevin Gregg helps the club keep their options open.
"He's a guy that's got a great arm, has had success, and a guy that really gets an opportunity to show what he can do," Mattingly said.
It's an opportunity Lowe appreciates.
"Any time you're healthy and you're pitching, there's a good feeling, regardless of if it's on a Major League contract, Minor League contract," Lowe said. "This is what I love to do, and it doesn't really matter what the opportunity is -- the fact is that I'm pitching and I'm competing. I'm doing what I like to do."
In addition to a slider, a circle change, and a mid-90s fastball, the 29-year-old Lowe also brings some veteran experience to the table.
"I've been around for a while, and I've been on good teams and have pitched in the World Series a couple times," he said, referring to appearances he made with the Rangers in 2010-11.
Lowe's contract provides him with an out on March 31 if he doesn't make the Major League roster. Should another club show interest, that's likely the path Lowe would take. If not, he could find himself at a crossroads, having to decide whether or not he'll step down to the Minors to continue his baseball career. However, the pitcher's focus is on the present, not on hypothetical what-ifs.
"I'm not even thinking about that right now," he said. "I'm just going to do what I know I can do and see what happens."
This post is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.