|Lowrie’s Left-Handed Launch a Pain||10.05.09 at 3:44 am ET|
Jed Lowrie entered Sunday with just five hits in 46 at-bats while hitting left-handed, good for a .109 average, .157 OBP and .152 slugging mark. The ongoing discomfort in his wrist as he continues to recover from surgery in April often has rendered his palte appearances against right-handed pitchers a struggle, leading to questions about whether he can serve a reliable postseason role.
But in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Sox’ 12-7 win, Lowrie showed an ability to battle and produce against a hard-throwing right-hander. He fell behind Indians reliever Chris Perez, 1-2, before fouling off a pair of mid-90s fastballs.
Then, when he got a 95 mph belt-high fastball on the inner half of the plate, he turned on it. Lowrie had choked up to make his swing more compact, and he wasn’t able to follow through on the swing due to the persistent pain when he takes his left-handed cuts. Still, he squared it so solidly enough to pull it into the visitor’s bullpen for a grand slam, the first of Lowrie’s career.
‘I have been taking stronger swings from the left side the last couple days. That’s not to say that it was without pain,’ said Lowrie. ‘It worked out great on that swing, but it’s not my swing. It’s not how I normally swing. I have to make that adjustment [on the follow-through] when it’s not feeling that great.’
Even so, the ability to adapt his game and play through pain offered a suggestion that Lowrie is almost certainly the Sox’ best option as a backup utility infielder for the Division Series. With Nick Green’s efforts to return to the field ‘stuck in neutral,’ in the words of Francona, Lowrie offered his most significant evidence of an ability to contribute if given the opportunity.
|Red Sox Playoff Roster Takes Some Shape||10.03.09 at 6:54 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona provided a number of updates about potential reserves for the postseason roster. The newest and likely most significant development was that outfielder Rocco Baldelli, after leaving Friday’s game with discomfort in his hip, is feeling “pretty tender” and “was hurting” when he arrived in the Fenway Park clubhouse today.
Baldelli will probably have to wait until Monday to undergo further tests, potentially including an MRI, but his availability for the start of the postseason could be in some question depending upon the results. Outfielders Joey Gathright and Brian Anderson will both be traveling with the Sox to Anaheim on Monday night for the start of the Division Series. Gathright seems all but certain to have a postseason roster spot regardless of Baldelli’s health; the right-handed Anderson, meanwhile, could become an option for the roster if Baldelli is limited.
Other relevant developments in the formulation of the playoff roster:
–Alex Gonzalez‘ X-rays today revealed that there was no fracture in his right hand. That came as a significant relief to both the shortstop and his club.
“To get hurt like that, be out for the season, it would be frustrating, especially since we’re going to the playoffs,” said Gonzalez. “That’s what I live for: the team in the postseason, trying to win the World Series. Thank God it didn’t happen.”
Gonzalez planned to take some swings on Saturday, and hopes to play on Sunday. That diminishes slightly the brief sense of panic that could have crept into the team’s calculations regarding its shortstop position.
–The backup role still seems a bit of an open question, however, with Nick Green seemingly unavailable, Jed Lowrie still somewhat limited (“We don’t want to see too much of Lowrie,” said Francona, suggesting that the team is still trying to measure his playing time) as he continues to rebuild strength following his April wrist surgery and Chris Woodward away from the club to be with his wife after she delivered the couple’s third child.
RIGHT FIELD / LEFT-HANDED OUTFIELDERS
–Sox manager Terry Francona said that J.D. Drew is fine, and will play tomorrow. Presuming he comes out of that game without a hitch, Josh Reddick will be sent to Fort Myers to stay fresh in case an injury requires the Sox to add him to the roster later in the postseason. If Drew has a setback, then Reddick would travel with the Sox to Anaheim as an insurance option.
–George Kottaras will travel with the club to Anaheim, but seemingly in a non-roster capacity. Unlike previous years, where the Sox were inclined to have three catchers to maximize their roster versatility, it appears that the team will have just two catchers this year. While Kottaras will travel with the team in the postseason, catcher Dusty Brown will head to Fort Myers to stay sharp.
–Paul Byrd said that he will be in the Red Sox bullpen both on Saturday and Sunday, but he did not think it necessary for him to gear up for a potential postseason bullpen role by making an appearance in the next couple of days.
–Michael Bowden will also head to Fort Myers to stay sharp. Pitchers Dustin Richardson, Hunter Jones and Fernando Cabrera will all head home.
–Junichi Tazawa will also travel with the Sox to Anaheim, spend the first two games with the club (“We want him to experience a little bit of what we’re doing,” said Sox manager Terry Francona, “and what he can hopefully be a part of”) and then fly back to Japan, his first professional season concluded.
|Pain in left arm a concern for Lowrie||08.06.09 at 11:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — During his first at-bat of the Red Sox‘ 13-6 loss to the Yankees, Jed Lowrie felt numbness in his left hand. In his second at-bat it got worse. That’s when the Red Sox shortstop knew it was time to call it a night.
The pain Lowrie experienced ran from the middle of his left forearm down the side of his hand all the way to the end of his pinky. It encompasses the same wrist which he had surgery on earlier this season.
“I’ve always tried to have an approach of tomorrow is a new day and figure out what the problem and get it fixed, but it’s frustrating,” said Lowrie, who was slated to talk with Red Sox manager Terry Francona to find out what the next step would be. “I can’t sit here and tell you I’m not frustarted, but I have to figure out what’s going on and get it better.”
It wasn’t the first time Lowrie had experienced such pain, having dealt with it late in a game against Oakland a week before. But since the problem cropped up late in the game, he dealt with it until the next day, and after that the problem began to dissipate… until Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
“I told (trainer) Paul (Lessard when it happened against Oakland), but like I said it didn’t happen until the eighth inning and I didn’t have any more at-bats and I just had to play the field. It was still a little numb the next day and more painful, but after a couple of days it felt better. I don’t know if this was something new or if the first time never got better.”
Lowrie was replaced at shortstop by Nick Green in the first inning after striking out in both of his at-bats.
|Rumor Mill: Toronto Wants Boston’s Cream of the Crop for Halladay||07.28.09 at 2:40 pm ET|
According to SI’s Jon Heyman, if the Sox were to pull the trigger for Halladay, they would need to include not just Clay Buchholz but also pitcher Daniel Bard and shortstop Jed Lowrie – a hefty price for a pitching ace.
Despite Tom Werner’s implication that the club may still make a big move before the trade deadline, Heyman writes that “Boston is seen by competitors as being very reluctant to give up its top prospects.”
|Amidst Rumors, Buchholz Unveiled||07.17.09 at 1:53 am ET|
PAWTUCKET ‘ With the sappy euphoria of All-Star week behind us, it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
The Red Sox are only three games up on the Yankees in a tight AL East race; Tampa Bay and their big bats are ready to pounce at only 6.5 games behind; and the Fenway faithful is hungry for another championship. The pressure is on Boston to win, and in the next 2½ months they’ll try everything they can to do just that ‘ perhaps including a shuffling around of players currently on the roster.
Roy Halladay has been the focal point of trade rumors ever since Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi publicly declared that he would be shopping the Blue Jays’ ace. The prospect of sporting a pitching staff that includes a top three of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Halladay (not to mention Smoltz, Wakefield, Penny and perhaps Matsuzaka) would border on excessive.
If the Sox were to trade for the Cy Young Award-winning Halladay, the package might have to include prized prospect Clay Buchholz. The 24-year-old righty has had a most unusual career with Boston thus far: in only his second game with the club, Buchholz threw a no-hitter against Baltimore before going 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA during the 2008 season.
This year Buchholz has pitched for Triple-A Pawtucket, where he’s been completely dominant, going 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA.
‘Buch’s an interesting guy because he burst onto the scene with a no-hitter, but he still had development left,’ said Pawtucket Manager Ron Johnson. ‘I think the organization made a really good call with him last year by sending him to the Fall League, and we’re reaping the benefits of it right now because he’s put together a really fine season.’
On Friday, Buchholz finally gets to make his first major league start of 2009 as the Sox head to Toronto. The call-up is described by Sox officials as likely being a one-and-done affair, with the pitcher expected to be sent back to the minors afterwards.
But the fact that the game will take place in Toronto certainly adds to the intrigue given the Halladay rumors. Blue Jays scouts were in attendance at his last start in Pawtucket on Sunday, but Buchholz hasn’t let the trade rumors affect him.
‘It never really was an issue for me,’ Buchholz said on Sunday. ‘Everything happens for a reason, so if something like that was to happen then you just have to take it for what it’s worth and you go on with your career. But I plan to be with the Red Sox for a long time.’
Some wonder whether the call-up is simply an opportunity for Boston to showcase the young flamethrower to Toronto before a potential trade. But Buchholz said he completely disagrees and, above all else, he’s just excited to be back in the big leagues.
His teammates have adopted a similar attitude, choosing to mostly ignore the trade talk and instead focus on playing the game.
‘It’s uncontrollable and there’s nothing I can do, so I don’t worry about it,’ said Pawtucket pitcher Michael Bowden, another highly touted Sox prospect. ‘There are so many other things that go into this game that you need to focus on, and you can’t let that stuff get in your head.’
Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has played with Buchholz in Pawtucket while rehabbing this season, remembers when his name came up in trade talks for another big time pitcher in 2007: Johan Santana. Dealing with the rumors, Lowrie said, wasn’t too bad at all.
‘I found it relatively simply,’ Lowrie said. ‘Rumors are rumors, and getting traded is all part of the business. You just have to always prepare yourself for something like that, and if it happens you have to go into the situation with the best attitude you can.’
While Buchholz certainly seems to have the right attitude, it’s the powers that be who will ultimately decide his fate.
Johnson knows this, and that’s why he’s not sweating about Buchholz’s future either.
‘I’m not going to play GM on this thing,’ Johnson said. ‘Clay Buchholz is going to prepare to pitch for the Red Sox and do the best he can. What happens after that, it’s up to the guys upstairs. We’ve got some smart guys up there.’
|Distractions aside, Lowrie just wants to play||07.16.09 at 7:17 am ET|
LOWELL — Jed Lowrie didn’t pick up a ball and glove as a child in Salem, Ore., so he could one day be discussed in a deal for Johan Santana. He didn’t bust his hump to be named 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year at Stanford so front offices everywhere could one day scramble to decide which position he projected to play in the majors. He didn’t make the 2007 Eastern League All-Star team so the scar tissue connecting a broken bone in his left wrist could one day tear. Jed Lowrie had none of these dreams when getting into baseball.
Now finally ready to return to the Sox after a wrist/scapholunate ligament cocktail spiked with a bruised right knee (he could be activated as soon as Saturday), Lowrie is anxious to do the other thing that comes with playing baseball: play baseball.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back and being a baseball player,” said Lowrie after his final rehab start in Lowell on Wednesday. For the switch-hitting shortstop, however, playing baseball hasn’t been as simple as fielding a position and taking swings at the plate, especially in his time as a professional.
Lowrie appeared in half of the Red Sox‘ games last season, playing 386 error-less innings at shortstop while also getting time in at third base and second base, his college position. All of this, of course, was done with a broken wrist.
The ’05 sandwich pick first injured the wrist last season on May 15 during a game in Buffalo. Due to inflammation the problem wasn’t initially as painfully obvious as it became down the stretch for the infielder.
“Throughout the year it continued to get worse,” said Lowrie, who felt discomfort as he went on to hit .222 from the left side of the plate for Boston. “By the end of the year, my grip strength was under 50 percent on my left hand.
‘It’s hard enough to play your first season in the major leagues, but it made it that much harder when I was playing with a broken wrist and I had to convince myself everyday that I was okay,” added Lowrie. “Looking back on it, I think it will make me better.’
While rehabbing the wrist for Pawtucket, Lowrie was plunked on the right knee on June 26 against Norfolk, further setting him back and requiring him to play two games for the PawSox as a designated hitter. He chalks it up to bad luck, but Lowrie is clearly excited to have the rehab over and done with after going 6-for-23 (.260) in his final six games since returning to short.
Lowrie said he followed the progress of the Red Sox while he recovered from surgery and got back into playing shape, even if it meant he could only check box scores because he himself was playing a game at the same time. One thing he did get to see, however, was the reception that former Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was given last Monday for his eight and a half years of service. Factor in the fact that Lowrie is one of 18 (!) men who have manned the position for the Sox since July 31, 2004, and you have a man with lofty goals.
“I would love to be that guy [that finally fills the long-term need at short]. It’s up to me to go out there and be the player that I know I can be,” said Lowrie, who added that Garciaparra’s ovation was “well-deserved for the work he put in there.”
Knowing that 2010 will have to be his next crack at his first full season in the majors, Lowrie says that his injuries and loss of a starting job that was seemingly his are both “in the past” and that he’s focused on doing whatever he can for Boston for the rest of the season. Make no mistake — there are plenty of things Lowrie can dwell on: a great spring training followed by a horrid 1-for-18 start this season, the fact that he could be the major-league-ready shortstop the Blue Jays might be seeking in a deal for Roy Halladay… the list goes on. While the distractions have been there for him (“I was thinking about so many things [last year] other than just playing the game”), nothing seems to be bigger to Lowrie than rejoining a team in the middle of yet another pennant race.
“For me now,” said Lowrie, “it’s looking forward.”
|Lowrie at 100 percent, aiming for July 18 return||07.10.09 at 12:01 am ET|
Check the box score to Thursday’s Buffalo/Pawtucket game and you might be disappointed in what you see out of rehabbing Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie: 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Watching him play, however, it’s clear that the man who was expected to be Boston’s shortstop is ready for the majors again.
The second-year switch-hitter has had a long road back from left wrist surgery in April, but it appears that the roadbumps along the way, including a bruised right knee that came as a result of being hit while rehabbing, are a thing of the past.
“Tonight was the first time I felt like it was 100 percent,” said Lowrie, who crushed a ball to the warning track for a flyout in his second at-bat. “Obviously I want to get hits, but the most important thing is for me to play and get back into playing shape.”
With the exception of his three-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning, Lowrie looked good at the plate, as he worked the count full in two at-bats and made solid contact twice.
“He had that zip that Jed can produce,” said PawSox manager Ron Johnson. “The ball was jumping off his bat tonight.”
However, it was in the field that the Stanford product turned heads at McCoy Stadium. Lowrie dove to his right in the third inning and made a sensational catch on a Wilson Valdez line drive that was tailing away from the shortstop. It was apparent at that point to all in attendance that the training wheels had come off and that Lowrie is back to playing the style of baseball that saw him go without an error last season for Boston.
The play stood out not only for its visual appeal, but because it came from someone who is supposed to be preparing himself for the daily grind without risking further injury.
“Once you’re in that competitive mode, it’s hard to tell yourself to turn it down,” said Lowrie of the reckless abandon he played with despite still technically rehabbing. “As a competitor you’re going to try to do everything you can to do your job.”
“I’m expecting to get the opportunity to play and to earn [the starting] job,” said Lowrie. “I felt like I played well enough to have it out of spring training, and unfortunately I needed surgery, but I’m not worried about what I deserve or what I’ve earned. I’m going up there to prove myself day in and day out. ”
Lowrie was hesitant to confirm that he would definitely be back for his anticipated July 18 return.
“That’s the plan,” said Lowrie, “but we’ll go from here.”
|Lowrie and ‘the clock’||07.06.09 at 6:36 pm ET|
Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie’s minor-league rehab assignment is nearing its conclusion, but it is unlikely that he will be ready to return by Friday, when the 20-day assignment will be at an end. Lowrie, who went 3-for-5 for Double-A Portland on Monday in just his seventh minor-league game, might well need more time in the minors beyond the window afforded by a minor-league rehab assignment. He missed several games after getting drilled by a pitch on the knee, and then missed more while Triple-A Pawtucket endured a succession of rainouts.
Even so, the Red Sox can extend Lowrie’s minor-league assignment beyond Friday if they so choose. Because Lowrie still has options remaining, if the team deems him unready to rejoin the club before the All-Star break, it could simply option him to Triple-A so that he could continue to play regularly prior to his activation from the disabled list. Lowrie has two options remaining, meaning that he can be shuttled between the major- and minor-league rosters for two more seasons without his consent and without being subjected to waivers.
|Lowrie resumes his rehab||06.27.09 at 7:16 pm ET|
Jed Lowrie absentmindedly rubbed his left wrist as he spoke Saturday in front of his locker before the Paw Sox home game against Syracuse. Now almost 10 weeks removed from the surgery to repair that area, the wrist — which Lowrie said was at 85 percent of his right wrist when he was last tested a few weeks ago — is less of an impediment to the shortstop’s return to the majors than is the need to simply get back in playing shape.
Lowrie returned to the lineup on Saturday night with Triple-A Pawtucket against Syracuse to resume his rehab with the PawSox. He was in just his third game since undergoing his surgery in mid-April on Tuesday when he was hit by a pitch in the left knee on Tuesday during his first at bat in Norfolk. He remained in the game singling in the top of the third eventually scoring on an Aaron Bates double.
With the three days off, Lowrie’s efforts to regain his timing at the plate and his game stamina have been slowed, at least temporarily.
‘I don’t have a timetable right now,’ Lowrie said. ‘The pitch to my knee didn’t help on Tuesday. It’s only my third real game back because of Tuesday so I’m just looking to get at bats.’
The Sox followed a conservative course in getting the 25-year-old shortstop back into the field.
‘It tightened up on him so we’re obviously taking our time on it,’ said Paw Sox manager Ron Johnson. ‘He rehabbed for a couple days and yesterday he went out for a full pre-game. I talked to him this morning at the airport and he flew back today, not with us, and he said he was ready to go tonight.’
“He hasn’t played a lot,” Johnson continued. “The focus with Jed is to make sure he’s ready. This is almost like a ‘re-spring training’ for him.
While Lowrie is eager to return, he also recognizes that he will do himself few favors by rushing his rehab or becoming frustrated by the pace of his progress.
‘I know I’m a major league shortstop and I believe in myself,” said Lowrie. “I’ll be back as soon as I can get back.’
|Francona: Not so fast on six-man rotation||06.18.09 at 9:29 pm ET|
With the rains falling before Thursday afternoon, presenting the chance of a rainout and another day off for the starting rotation, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked about the status of six-man rotation as John Smoltz looks forward to his return next Thursday at Washington.
‘This six-man rotation is getting little bit of a life of its own,” Francona said. “We haven’t quite got there yet. Smoltz just got done yesterday. We’ll make decisions in the best interests of our team.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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