Lowrie making up for lost time
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jed Lowrie was activated off the disabled list last July 21 with little fanfare and few expectations.
Once considered the Red Sox’ best shortstop prospect, Lowrie missed nearly the entire 2009 season with a lingering wrist injury, then contracted mononucleosis in spring training, putting him on the shelf for the first three months of 2010.
As he fought to return to health, the organization moved on. Jose Iglesias, a defensive wizard from Cuba, was signed to an $8.25 million deal in 2009. Then veteran Marco Scutaro was signed to fill the position until Iglesias was deemed ready.
Lowrie wasn’t forgotten, but he had been pushed to the side.
“That’s what happens in baseball,’’ Lowrie said. “I wasn’t surprised. I had to prove myself.’’
It started right away, as Lowrie had a hit, walked twice, and drove in a run in his first game back last season. He has not stopped since.
Lowrie has hit .319 since his return, with a .399 on-base percentage and a .567 slugging percentage before last night’s 4-2 victory in 11 innings over the Angels. Lowrie went 1 for 5 with a sacrifice fly in the 11th.
Among players with at least 200 plate appearances since the start of last season, Lowrie is ninth with a .966 OPS.
The players ahead of him are a collection of stars: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau, and Jim Thome. Tulowitzki is the only other shortstop.
Lowrie, who hit sixth last night, has hit .462 with three homers and 11 RBIs this season. He arrived here with 17 hits in his last 32 at-bats, with five extra-base hits. The surge has sent Scutaro to the bench.
“It’s a nice hot streak,’’ Lowrie said.
It’s not entirely a surprise. Lowrie was the 45th overall pick in the 2005 draft and won the Pac-10 Triple Crown as a sophomore at Stanford. But after two rocky seasons, he came to spring training this year in a reserve role.
“We think a lot of this kid,’’ said manager Terry Francona. “We’d be crazy not to. But to say he’s going to be the shortstop coming into camp, with all he’s been through, I don’t know if that would have made a whole lot of sense.’’
Lowrie hit .216 in spring training without a home run. But he established habits that have served him well since.
“I’m preparing myself every day,’’ he said. “That preparation is carrying over to the game right now. It’s not like I’m eating the same thing at night.
“It’s the same outline, so to speak. If there is something in particular I need to work on, I add that.’’
Lowrie has made two errors at shortstop in 54 innings but has handled the position adequately, according to Francona.
Kalish injured Ryan Kalish, the team’s top outfield prospect, injured his left shoulder making a diving catch in the second inning of Pawtucket’s game yesterday.
Kalish was in a sling after the game. Assistant general manager Ben Cherington said he would be examined in Boston today but the initial diagnosis was that he did not dislocate the joint.
Kalish, 23, hit .252 with 4 homers and 24 RBIs in 53 games for the Sox last season.
A wild idea Commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday that baseball could add a second wild-card team in each league as early as next season.
“I would say we’re moving to expanding the playoffs, but there’s a myriad of details to work out,’’ Selig said at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Ten is a fair number.’’
The plan would be for the two wild-card teams to play off for the right to advance to the next round.
Aceves heads down With righthanded reliever Matt Albers coming off the disabled list, righthander Alfredo Aceves was optioned back to Pawtucket. Aceves, who allowed two earned runs on five hits over eight innings in six relief appearances, will join the rotation there.