MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Following a lockout-induced abbreviated spring training, many players won’t feel ready for opening day on April 7.
With his one-year contract re-signing completed Saturday, Oakland Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie is even farther behind.
“Once the lockout ended, all the guys who were there throwing were gone,’’ he said of pitchers providing live at-bats in Houston, his offseason home. “I’m 2 1-2 weeks late, I got to catch up, and that takes time.’’
Lowrie, who will turn 38 in April, can’t predict how long it will take to restore his timing, and adjust to the adrenaline rush of the MLB level, noting that there’s a reason spring training is usually six weeks.
“I have to take it day-by-day, and build up,’’ Lowrie said. “Because if you look at the pandemic year (2020) … you look at the number of injuries that happened after that. That’s why we have this build up in spring training, to protect guys over the course of a season.”
Injuries are a significant concern, given the recent history of the 13-year veteran. He did not play in 2020 with the Mets because of a knee injury, which limited him to nine games in 2019.
Last season with the A’s, Lowrie experienced a bruised foot, a broken foot, and a fractured right hand. None of the injuries required offseason surgery, so the switch-hitter was able to prepare productively, a boon given his condensed spring training.
A career .260 hitter with a .745 OPS, Lowrie batted .245 with a .717 OPS in 139 games last season, including hitting left-handed only the last month because of the hand fracture. He finished second on the club with 28 doubles.
“Jed’s always had a good discipline for the strike zone,’’ A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He has consistent contact, a consistent barrel, and his approach: he’s a professional hitter. So all these hitters that are here will benefit from him being around and talking hitting.’’
With the void created by the trading of All-Star Matt Olson, Lowrie was taking groundballs at first base on Saturday, yet he is quick to point out that he retains the range required to stay at second base because he is injury-free.
While acknowledging his limited time – 11 games — at first base, Lowrie said: “… It’s a position at this point in my career. I told Kots, I’ll do whatever it takes to be in the lineup. But I asked him to keep an open mind because I’m moving well.’’
Kotsay said: “We’re going to keep an open mind on a lot of things. He’s played third base, as well, he’s played shortstop, and he’s played all over the field, so again the versatility is something. If Jed feels he’s healthy and moving well, obviously, we’ll have an open mind, and we want to use Jed in a way that makes us a better team.’’
NOTES: Frankie Montas, Sunday’s starter, surrendered six hits and four runs against the Mariners. He ended on an improved note: striking out all three batters in the third inning … A few hours after Kotsay spoke of Christian Pache’s ability to play a shallow center field (like former Braves All-Star Andruw Jones), Pache made a diving catch on a blooper in shallow right center. … OF Stephen Piscotty is making gains from his shoulder injury.
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