'Cautiously optimistic,' Lowrie looks to '10
Shortstop's role with Red Sox depends on wrist progress
BOSTON -- For a while, Jed Lowrie was one of the steadiest prospects in the Red Sox's farm system. Then, it appeared he was going to settle in as Boston's starting shortstop. Now? He's in a little bit of a transition period, just trying to get his troublesome left wrist healthy enough so that the Red Sox know what they have.
The role of Lowrie on the 2010 Red Sox? That is too be determined, not just by what kind of strides he makes with his wrist this winter, but how he plays once the games begin.
Of course, it was not lost on Lowrie that Boston recently signed free-agent shortstop Marco Scutaro to a two-year contract that includes an option for a third year. But just as Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that the organization by no means has given up on Lowrie, neither has the player himself.
Before interacting with fans at the annual Christmas at Fenway event on Saturday, Lowrie took a few minutes to talk about the signing of Scutaro as well as the state of his wrist and his optimism going forward.
The signing of Scutaro?
"I guess it's extra motivation," Lowrie said. "But I feel like I'm a very internally motivated person anyway. External factors affect me in small proportion, but it's not going to be a force that drives me to do something that I normally wouldn't do. I'm internally motivated. Marco is a good player. He had a great year. For me, I have a lot of questions about my wrist, too. From a business standpoint, I understand that move. It doesn't intimidate me. All I can do is just ask for the opportunity to be the player I know I can be."
To do that, he will need a sturdy wrist, something that was never the case in 2009, not even after the surgery in late April that got him back on the roster following the All-Star break. The switch-hitter's return to the Red Sox was short-lived and unproductive -- particularly from the left side -- as his wrist simply didn't respond.
But perhaps all he needed was some more time. The winter months have provided some encouragement.
"It's been feeling better," said Lowrie. "I've been doing physical therapy and just trying to gain the mobility within my hand back, and the joints. Once we do that, we'll move into the strength phase. Strength without mobility is worthless. It's been feeling a lot better. I saw [trainer] Mike Reinold yesterday and he seemed optimistic about it, and I've learned through talking to doctors that I just need to tape a little bit different. The tape we were doing last year was reacting to the symptoms, as opposed to being proactive and finding the solution."
The wrist first started to bother Lowrie in June 2008, his rookie season, and he played through it the rest of the year. After a strong offseason a year ago, Lowrie had no inkling that the injury would linger in '09, especially when he was one of the team's best hitters throughout Spring Training. But then came the regular season, and back came the pain.
That experience explains why he's taking more of a wait-and-see approach this winter.
"I guess the best way to say it is 'cautiously optimistic,'" Lowrie said. "It's still untested. I haven't played with it. It's getting better. As long as it continues to get better, I'm happy. Now, the next step is to go out there and get into the baseball activity."
Lowrie made it back to the active roster by September, but never salvaged much to hang his hat on. In 2009, Lowrie played just 32 games in Boston, hitting .147 with two homers and 11 RBIs.
"I hope that last year was the hardest year of my career, because it was very trying," Lowrie said. "In perspective, [other] people have it a lot worse. I don't want pity for my situation. It was a hard year for me."
He is already looking forward to Spring Training.
"It's starting to hit me now. I'm going to have to control that, because I need to give my wrist as much time as possible, but I'm ready to get back out there," Lowrie said. "For Spring Training, I'm excited to see what comes of 2010 and to allow myself to give myself the opportunity to prepare for that -- get back into shape and get my wrist ready to play. I'm looking forward to Spring Training and actually playing baseball."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.