Lowrie's mission: Stay healthy in 2010
Infielder hoping to be role player in Red Sox's efforts
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- At a time of year when many players set numerical goals, all Jed Lowrie wants is health. It has been an elusive thing for the young infielder, who enters this camp without a defined role and only one mission.
"I just need to prove I'm healthy," Lowrie said. "That's been my mantra all offseason: just get healthy. I'm aware of what I'm capable of when I'm healthy."
Marco Scutaro was signed off the free-agent market as Boston's starting shortstop because the Red Sox simply didn't have any assurances that Lowrie would be healthy. He played through a broken bone in his left wrist for most of the 2008 season, his power from the left side completely diminished. Then there was last year, when Lowrie thought he was healthy at the start of camp, only to have his wrist weaken as the weeks progressed.
By mid-April, Lowrie was on the disabled list. A couple of weeks after that, he was on the operating table. His season was almost a complete loss, with recurring woes once he returned from the disabled list after the All-Star break.
"For me, I just need to get healthy," said Lowrie. "I played all of 2008 with a broken wrist. I don't feel like I need to prove I'm tough enough. I just need to get healthy."
Will Lowrie be a utility man for manager Terry Francona or a starter at Triple-A Pawtucket? Obviously, he hopes for the former.
"I feel like I'm not going to lose that baseball eye," Lowrie said. "There's plenty of at-bats in Spring Training. To me, it's dependent on my wrist -- what the health of my wrist is. That's something that will shake out. We'll have an open dialogue with [general manager] Theo [Epstein] and everyone here."
It has been a productive offseason for Lowrie, who worked on new techniques for taping his wrist and spent the past few weeks working out in Tampa, Fla.
If Lowrie can remain healthy, he could be a useful piece for the 2010 Red Sox. Aside from his ability to play short, third and second, Lowrie is a switch-hitter with discipline and perhaps some power, a skill that has been nullified by the injured wrist to this point.
"Really, I think health is the most important thing for Jed," Epstein said. "We want to make sure he gets through this Spring Training healthy and prove that he can get through a Major League season healthy as well. It's been a long road now with the injury. He's feeling good. Through early batting practice the last couple of months, he's been swinging for about four to six weeks now. We've just got to keep him on the field."
Does Lowrie feel healthy at the outset of camp?
"I think it's full speed ahead as far as continuing to do everything that I have been doing," said Lowrie. "Whether that's everyone else's full speed, we'll find that out. Like I said, it's a completely different environment down here. I just need to do what I can, and be honest with them and honest with myself. You can look at this season as a rebound season, but I'm looking to have a long career. I'm not looking to just have one season."
However, there's no question that one fully healthy season would put a huge smile on Lowrie's face and move a sizable burden off his shoulders.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.