Even the simplest questions have led to uncertainty for Jed Lowrie this season, and yesterday was no different. Someone wondered when he might play again for the Red Sox. Sitting in front of his locker, curled his right index finger in the air.
“The big question mark,” he said. “That’s been my answer all year.”
Lowrie still hopes he can change the narrative of his frustrating year. He will begin another rehab assignment Monday, most likely in Pawtucket, in a last-chance effort to salvage his season, derailed from the start by his injured left wrist. The Red Sox approached Lowrie about a rehab earlier this week, but Lowrie, weary of setbacks, requested three additional days to strengthen his wrist.
His rehab starting date gives him one week to test his left wrist before rosters expand Sept. 1. Between surgery in late April and a nerve issue that surfaced upon his return after the All-Star break, Lowrie’s wrist problems have limited him to 19 games this year. He faces the possibility of not playing another.
“It’s getting to the point in the season where it either responds well and I play, or it doesn’t,” Lowrie said. “There’s no really gray area at this point.
“I can’t say that I haven’t thought that. I don’t know if that’s the biggest thought in my head or the one that comes up most. When it feels great, you’re like, ‘Oh, let’s go do it.’ When it feels bad, it’s like ‘Well, I might be done for the year.’ I think it feels better more than it feels it worse. We’ll see how it feels.”
Lowrie remains optimistic he will play again this season. Yesterday, Lowrie took ground balls and batting practice. Last Sunday, Lowrie bench pressed for the first time since spring training, his wrist bearing the weight. He could only lift 60 percent of what he had in April, but he described the session as progress.
Good moments have been rare for Lowrie. He battered pitching in spring training until he felt his wrist weaken, like it felt last season. He tried playing through it until he could not. He underwent surgery.
Lowrie’s first rehab stint, which started in late June, dragged on after a pitch whacked him in the knee and added another ailment to worry about. His comeback lasted about two weeks before nerves flared and weakened his wrist again. He flew to Phoenix to visit the specialist who performed his surgery. The doctor cleared Lowrie to pursue playing again.
When he prepared to go home, the heat rose above 100 degrees. His plane had a mechanical issue, and Lowrie sat on a runway for three hours before the flight was canceled. “Uncle,” he thought.
“It’s hard going through this,” Lowrie said. “I feel like I’ve maintained a pretty good attitude, where I haven’t gotten too low. I feel like I’ve been treading water, trying to keep my head above. There’s been some times where it’s been pretty tough. At the same time, there are a lot of people dealing with a lot more problems than what I’m dealing with. I’m not asking for sympathy by saying I’ve been through a hard time. It’s just that, it’s been frustrating.”
Still 25, Lowrie missed nearly a full season of development. The Red Sox envision Lowrie as a potential long-term solution at shortstop, and this season has not affected that prospect in Lowrie’s mind. Lowrie is batting .143 this year, but he is confident the struggles owe to his physical limitations.
“That doesn’t mean as much to me as just getting [his wrist] healthy,” Lowrie said. “I feel like if I’m healthy and I’m able to play, my abilities and my approach to the game will be taken care of. I feel like I have a good enough idea of what I’m doing at the plate. I have a good idea of what I need to do. If I get healthy, I’ll be good enough.”
Lowrie hopes he can find out if he’s right before this season ends. He was asked to summarize his 2009 campaign.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” Lowrie said. “Because it’s not over yet.”