VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Derek Lowe hasn't heard a word from the Dodgers about a contract extension, and that's fine with him.
Lowe pitched two scoreless innings in the Dodgers' 6-5 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, his first start of a spring that could be his last with the club. Drawing comfort from the financial security afforded to him by the four-year, $36-million deal that will expire at the end of the season and aware of the pitfalls of worrying too much in a contract year, Lowe said he was confident that he wouldn't repeat the mistakes of his last season with the Boston Red Sox in 2004.
"Night and day," was how Lowe compared his ability to deal with impending free agency then and now.
"The situation was a little different back then," he said. "There was talk of an extension during spring training and it didn't work out. Knowing that an offer was out there and turned down, I tried too hard every single start to try to prove that I was worth more than they thought. Every bad game, I thought I was costing myself money. Mentally, it was a struggle and, consequently, I had the worst regular season that I've had."
Lowe was 14-12 that season and posted a 5.42 earned-run average, his highest as a starter.
"You learn from those things," Lowe said. "The longer you play, the more you realize the most important thing is to win. Back then, you're still trying to get your first big contract underneath your belt, so now it's completely different."
Lowe, who struck out the last two batters he faced on Sunday, will pitch next on Thursday in Ft. Myers, where the Dodgers will face the Red Sox.
Brad Penny experimented with a looser grip on his split-fingered fastball in his spring debut Saturday, he said, "just to take some velocity off of it."
Russell Martin, who was behind the plate, said that the ball seemed to be coming out of his hand with greater ease. "It looked good," Martin said.
An exhausted Penny was in the Dodgers' clubhouse Sunday morning, back from a trip he made to Ohio after his start to watch his friend Dan Henderson fall to Anderson Silva in an Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title bout.
On the mend
Takashi Saito and Rudy Seanez played catch and said they felt recovered from the problems that halted their respective throwing sessions Saturday. Saito had cramping in his right calf and Seanez had tightness in the groin of his push-off leg.
Second baseman Tony Abreu, who has been shut down because of soreness in his groin related to his off-season abdominal surgery, has been working on strengthening his lower body with a regimen that includes weight lifting. He ran Sunday and said he felt better.
Joe Torre will move the manager's office at Dodger Stadium back to where it was when Walter Alston was in charge of the team: the present-day coaches' locker room that is connected to the clubhouse. The coaches will now dress in a room down the hallway that Tom Lasorda made the manager's office. . . . Former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser lost to Andy Bloch in the quarterfinals of the Heads-Up National Poker Championship at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. To reach the quarterfinals, Hershiser beat Ted Forrest, Allen Cunningham and Freddy Deeb, all winners of multiple World Series of Poker bracelets. . . . Pitcher Rick Asadoorian, who sang Billy Joel's "Piano Man" while playing a guitar and harmonica, was the winner of the "Dodger Idol" competition.