NEW YORK -- About two hours after Mets manager Luis Rojas described Jed Lowrie as a “full go” on Sunday, indicating that the oft-injured infielder can participate in a normal slate of baseball activities throughout Summer Camp, Lowrie emerged onto the Citi Field dirt with a group of teammates. They began running through a series of baserunning drills, moving from home to first, home to second, first to third and the like.
Unlike his teammates, however, Lowrie was not sprinting. Wearing a brace on his left leg, Lowrie instead jogged slowly around the basepaths when it was his turn to run. He never approached anything resembling full speed.
“It’s frustrating,” Lowrie later said of his still-uncertain status, a year after left-side issues limited him to eight pinch-hit plate appearances. “Obviously, it hasn’t gone as expected.”
At least on the surface, Lowrie does not appear to have progressed significantly from where he was when coronavirus concerns forced Mets camp to shut down in March. Neither the Mets nor Lowrie have defined his injury in any detail, outside of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen indicating that the issues radiate from Lowrie’s left knee.
It was a sprained knee capsule that initially sidelined Lowrie in February 2019, shortly after he joined the Mets on a two-year, $20 million deal; he has since faced problems up and down the entire left side of his body, as well as a right calf strain that set back his rehab last summer. Asked again on Sunday to explain his injury, Lowrie responded:
“At this point, we’re in a 60-game sprint right now and I don’t want to create any distractions. And so I just want to mitigate everything that I can, manage it the best that I can, and do whatever I can do to help this team win in this short amount of time. Because we have such a talented group in here that I don’t want to create any distractions.”
Asked later in the interview if not revealing details of his injury might create even more of a distraction, Lowrie said: “That’s something that I’ll leave up to the Twitterverse. All I can say is … as a professional, I’m doing everything I can to get on the field. I chose to come here. I want to be a part of this organization and be a part of something fun. That’s why I want to focus on the task at hand. We have a short window of games, and hopefully I can contribute to something cool. Because that’s why I signed here.”
Of significant issue for Lowrie is the brace, which covers most of his left leg. It is a more functional model than the bulky rehab brace Lowrie had used regularly in February and March, but it does not provide as much support. Right now, Lowrie is trying to grow comfortable playing baseball in the newer brace without pain.
In that sense, he is stuck in baseball purgatory: able to swing a bat, take ground balls, move around the second-base bag and even run the bases at less than full speed, but unable to make the gains necessary to join the roster.
Designated hitter could be an option for Lowrie, though his inability to sprint would create an issue there. When asked about DH’ing, Lowrie said he would defer to team officials to make that decision; for now, he plans simply to continue working, and hope the pain diminishes.
“I’m confident that I’m going to be able to do whatever is asked of me,” Lowrie said. “We’ll take it day by day, but I feel good.”