Lowe looks to start year on high note

Lowe, Dodgers look to start year on high note

Derek Lowe has rehashed why things went wrong for him and his team last year.

Now he wants to focus on why things can go right this year.

"There's a lot of optimism with the moves we made, an entirely different atmosphere around here this year," Lowe said of the club put together by new general manager Ned Colletti. "This team expects to win and doesn't hope to win. Those two words are extremely different. This team was assembled to win, not just compete and hang in there. It was assembled to do a lot of good things."

Lowe has the chance to get it started. For the second consecutive Opening Day, he will be handed the ball by a Dodgers manager. This time -- on Monday at Dodger Stadium against the Atlanta Braves -- the manager is Grady Little, and Lowe has the familiarity of playing for Little in Boston as a frame of reference for what he has seen over the past six weeks.

"I know, having played for Grady, but most of the guys haven't played for him," said Lowe. "They've seen that Grady gives players a lot of leeway.

"He respects the fact that they'll get their job done. He allows you to go at your own pace. You see certain guys going about things differently than other guys. That's OK. Everyone has their program. I've been in his camps before and I know what it's like. It's very productive. The bottom line is, he respects the guys he manages. He doesn't watch over you."

Lowe said he's not surprised at the upbeat atmosphere in the clubhouse, in contrast to what he sensed last year.

"If you ask the old guys or the new guys, they'll tell you they enjoy this camp," he said. "It's very relaxed, but productive. You see that we're not here all day standing around. We're out there only as long as we need to be to get our work in and we have a good time doing it."

But will they have a good time once the bell rings?

"It's definitely important to us to get off to a good start," said Lowe, who had a no-decision in his only start against the Braves last year.

"We don't have to break records like last year, but we need to build momentum early. It would be a good statement to play the Braves and win. They've won the division God knows how many times in a row, and to play a solid game and to have me on the mound pitching my game, it will definitely be an exciting atmosphere and a great way to start the season."

Lowe said he reasons that the talent added to the roster should put the Dodgers in contention from start to finish.

"The way I analyze a team is that if the 25 guys have just average, normal years and you would have a playoff-bound team, that says a lot," he said. "That's what we have here, I think. It's hard to have a good season when you need about 10 guys to have career years. That's just asking too much. In this locker room, if we have just average years, we'll be very good."

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Tim Hudson
• 14-9, 3.52 ERA in 2005
• 2-0, 1.93 ERA in 2005 vs. LA
• 4-0, 2.43 ERA lifetime vs. LA

LA: RHP Derek Lowe
• 12-15, 3.61 ERA in 2005
• 1-0, 3.86 ERA in 2005 vs. ATL
• 1-2, 3.48 ERA lifetime vs. ATL

  Dodgers probable lineup
1.SSRafael Furcal
2.LFJose Cruz Jr.
3.RFJ.D. Drew
4.2BJeff Kent
5.1BNomar Garciaparra
6.3BBill Mueller
7.CSandy Alomar Jr.
8.CFJason Repko
9.PDerek Lowe

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
ATL: WGST AM 640 and 96 Rock
LA: KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM (Español)

On deck
• Tuesday: vs. Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: vs. Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.