NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The greatest test of Brandon Lowe’s fractured right kneecap came not on a baseball field or in a gym. It was in Switzerland, between his hotel and a train station.
Lowe and his wife, Madison, took a two-week European vacation to Italy and Switzerland last month. They were about to board a train in Switzerland when Lowe realized he’d picked up the wrong ticket from their hotel room. Needing to cover the half-mile between the two locations and back -- and fast -- Lowe completed his round-trip mile run in time to ride the rails.
“I made it,” Lowe said Monday, smiling. “Knee felt great. Lungs hurt a little bit.”
Lowe said he didn’t even think about his knee until he was seated on the train. Then he realized it was the first time he’d run since fouling a pitch off his right kneecap in the seventh inning on Sept. 21, which resulted in a right patella fracture that frustratingly ended his season early. And he was pain-free, setting him on track for a mostly normal offseason.
Lowe said he has been working out with no restrictions and is scheduled to start swinging a bat next week. He ditched his crutches after one day in a straight knee brace and didn’t require surgery to help the bone heal. But he took a little extra time off from workouts to start the offseason while he was completing his rehabilitation.
“Just a very strange, strange break and strange situation,” Lowe said. “Just wanted to make sure that nothing could happen to it, and then as soon as I got the strength back after the initial shock toward all the muscles, they took the brace off and I was good.”
Having Lowe healthy would be a welcome development for the Rays next season. The 29-year-old second baseman was limited to 109 games and struggled a bit early on as he continued to play through a lingering back issue. Between his July 4 return and his season-ending injury, though, Lowe hit more like himself, slashing .254/.353/.483 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 59 games.
In the meantime, Lowe is like any other baseball fan this week: eager to see what comes out of the Winter Meetings. He, Madison and their son, Emmett, made the short trip from their offseason home in the area Monday and met up with Lowe’s agency at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort. Lowe made an appearance on MLB Network, met with the front office and, of course, wondered where Shohei Ohtani might wind up.
“Ready to see if there's any moves. I don't know if anything's going to happen for us this Winter Meetings, but there are some pretty big-name free agents, you could say, that have a chance to sign somewhere,” Lowe said. “You kind of get to see what it's all about.”