As we boarded the bus Thursday morning at McCoy for the trip to Syracuse, I did a double take when I saw Jed Lowrie. I knew the middle infielder was to accompany us to central New York, but after three days off, it nonetheless surprised me to see him. He has battled mononucleosis all Spring, yet looked surprisingly healthy. Relaxed on the clubhouse couch, feet up, golf cap perched on his head. We’ve known each other for a while. This will be the fourth straight year he has played at least part of a season with Pawtucket.
Later that day, at Alliance Bank Stadium, Lowrie was philosophical and upbeat when he talked about wearing the PawSox colors again. “Hey, I’ve got to start somewhere. I played a few games at Lowell, trying to get in shape and now I’m here. It’s all good!”
Jed learned that mononucleosis is not an affliction that strikes just teenagers. The 26 year old explained how it hit him. “After surgery the risk is always higher, your immune system is compromised and viruses are opportunistic creatures and I was an opportunity with a weakened immune system. How I got it, I have no idea. Supposedly, it’s transmitted through saliva. I really can’t tell you.” While Lowrie labored in Fort Myers, we had heard horror stories about how much weight he had lost. Sitting in the dugout in Syracuse, he looked great, but didn’t argue about those stories. “I think all those were true.” he admitted. “I lost quite a bit of weight. My energy was…I felt like a zombie. I feel like I’ve turned the corner with it. I feel healthy. Baseball aside, my most important goal was to get healthy. Baseball had to take a back seat during this, my focus was my health.”
Jed has been sidelined by wrist problems for the last couple of years and now the mono. He said that his various ailments have taught him something important. “With the wrist and now the mono, I’ve tried to convince myself that I was OK when I didn’t feel real well. I think that caught up with me. I had to take a step back from the game and get healthy.” When asked for a possible timeline for a return to Boston, Lowrie had an answer ready. “I’ve been asked about percentages and time lines so many times in the last couple of years. I can’t really put a finger on it. I’m happy with being healthy and I’ll leave it at that.”
Lowrie hit .400 in 6 games with the Spinners and he’s ready for a higher level of competition. Thursday night, he DH’ed and had a sacrifice fly that scored a run and blasted a double to the alley and scored. He looked good. “I’m here to face guys who know how to play, how to pitch. It’s all part of the progression.”
Lowrie was wearing his familiar #2, worn for the last few weeks by super prospect Ryan Kalish. Jed said Kalish willingly surrendered the jersey, and wanted no compensation. “No, Ryan was cool about it. he doesn’t want anything, but I will definitely take him out to dinner.” Incidentally, wearing #12, Kalish had another multi- hit game for Pawtucket in the 8-2 win. As I pointed out on the broadcast, he could have a ? on the back of the jersey and still get a couple of knocks.
Jed is no stranger to the disabled list. When asked about the recent flap over teammate Jacoby Ellsbury and his decision to rehab away from the team, Lowrie was diplomatic. “I don’t want to comment on what Jacoby did. That’s his personal situation. I’ve had to make decisions that were right for me and he has to do the same, as does everyone else out there. If I’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s your career and you need to do what’s right for you.”
Although hampered by the wrist and mono over the last couple of seasons, Jed smiled when his Series clinching hit against the Angels in the 2008 ALDS was brought up. “I saved the champagne bottles from the celebration, the ticket stubs and whatever I else I could and I made a nice plaque out of it. That’s a great memory, especially as a rookie. You’re just trying to get your feet wet. Those are the memories you hold on to for the rest of your life. It was obviously a big moment, one I’m looking forward to repeating.”
There’s no doubt that a healthy Jed Lowrie is more than capable of letting history repeat itself.