Mets place Lowrie (knee) on injured list

July 20th, 2020

NEW YORK -- An offseason of rest was not enough for  to overcome the left-side issues ailing him for the better part of two years. A three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus did not give Lowrie the time he needed to recover.

Monday, the Mets acknowledged the inevitable, placing Lowrie on the injured list due to “left knee discomfort.” Lowrie plans to visit a doctor later this week, at which point the team hopes to receive a more specific diagnosis on what afflicts him.

“From a competition standpoint,” manager Luis Rojas said, “it’s just not where we want it.”

Lowrie, 36, was limited to eight plate appearances last season, all in September, in the first half of a two-year, $20 million contract. He initially revealed his discomfort mere weeks after signing that contract, sitting out most of 2019 Spring Training due to a sprained left knee capsule. Lowrie also suffered a right calf strain during his rehab, at which point the Mets began offering increasingly vague explanations for his lingering absence.

Asked earlier this month what precisely was bothering him, Lowrie declined to answer, saying: “I don’t want to create any distractions.”

“All I can say is … as a professional, I’m doing everything I can to get on the field,” Lowrie continued. “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.”

That same day, Rojas referred to Lowrie as “a full go” for workouts and games, but reality quickly set in. Although he proved adept at batting practice, Lowrie was unable to sprint or play the field at anything resembling Major League game speed. He said he was struggling to transition from a bulky rehab brace to a lighter, more functional brace that would be allowed under MLB rules. The new brace, Lowrie indicated, did not do enough to mitigate his pain.

“He’s worked really hard,” Rojas said. “He and I have had different conversations about how hard he’s worked in his progression course. We saw his bat. We saw his ability, his hands, his arms, they’re all in shape. It’s just the running part, and also parts of his defense -- moving around and the range to make some plays -- that was the part that we just couldn’t translate our vision into playing games.”

Rojas said he was unsure if surgery might be an option for Lowrie, who has resisted that suggestion in the past. More answers should come later this week, when Lowrie visits a doctor.

The Mets are still hopeful they can coax some production out of Lowrie, a career .261 hitter over a dozen seasons with the A’s, Red Sox, Astros and Mets. But the season is only 60 games long, and Lowrie will miss at least the first portion of it.

Pitcher down

In a separate move, the Mets placed right-hander on the IL due to lower back discomfort. Lockett has been pitching in intrasquad and simulated games at Citi Field, but is “a little bit behind the group” because of his ailment, according to Rojas.

The move allows the Mets to keep Lockett off their Opening Day roster without risking his rights, as he is out of Minor League options. Lockett, David Peterson, Corey Oswalt and Erasmo Ramírez are the four most prominent candidates to step in should any of the Mets’ top five starters suffer an injury. The team is keeping all four stretched out as starters.

A trade acquisition two winters ago, Lockett posted an 8.34 ERA over nine MLB outings last summer, but a 3.82 mark in the Minors.

Bits and pieces

Catcher remained absent from Mets camp Monday as he deals with a personal issue. He is questionable for Opening Day. … Also uncertain is outfielder , who did not appear in either of the Mets’ exhibition games against the Yankees over the weekend due to left hamstring tightness. Marisnick did play in a simulated game on Sunday, however, and participated in baserunning drills Monday afternoon.