Jed Lowrie, finally healthy, sees dividends at the plate

May 24, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

By: Eric He

OAKLAND – Jed Lowrie is healthy again, and he’s batting .300.

Correlation is not causation, but it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that one has led to the other.

Last season, his first of his second stint with Oakland, Lowrie played in just 87 games and hit .263 with two home runs and 27 RBI, his lowest total since 2010. He served two stints on the disabled list and had two offseason surgeries: one to fix a damaged ligament in his left foot and the other to remove a bunion and a cyst. Rumors swirled last December that the A’s were gauging trade interest in the veteran infielder.

Good thing they wound up keeping him.

The A’s second baseman’s four-hit day in a 4-1 win over the Marlins on Wednesday raised Lowrie’s average from .283 to .300, which would be a career-high. He went 4-for-4, smacking a pair of doubles and driving in two runs to fuel the A’s offense.

Over the last six games, Lowrie is batting .520 (13-for-25), breaking out of a 4-for-31 slump and leading the A’s in batting average at an exact .300. One factor, he said after the game, was getting healthy.

“I was able to get healthy this offseason and put in a full offseason’s worth of work,” Lowrie said. “It’s not that I wasn’t doing the work before. I just felt better this offseason.”

Staying in shape has allowed Lowrie to better focus and prepare on his game.

“I felt comfortable all year,” he said. “That’s just a matter of putting the work in. I’ve been able to maintain a good routine, work with [hitting coach Darren Bush] in the cage and have a good plan.”

And you know Lowrie is on top of his game when he has performances such as Wednesday’s. He sprayed the ball all over the field: his first hit was to right center, the second to left center, the third down the right field line and the fourth a ground ball through the right side.

Manager Bob Melvin agreed that being healthy has been a key for Lowrie.

“Really consistent the whole year,” Melvin said. “Worked hard this offseason after the surgeries. Physically he feels better than he ever has. Durability-wise, he’s been out there more. I consistently talk to him about DH — no, he wants to play. His defense is better. The surgeries he had were very impactful for him.”

Drafted as a second baseman by the Red Sox in 2005, Lowrie was told he’d be converted to a shortstop the day he was selected. With Dustin Pedroia manning second baseman duties for Boston, Lowrie spent a majority of his time at short with the Red Sox, the Astros and during his first stint with the A’s.

But now, at age 33, he’s at second, where he feels more comfortable and has to move around less.

“I think second base at this point is my natural position and it’s less wear and tear on the legs at this point,” he said.

Less wear and tear means less injuries, which means better health. That, in turn, leads to good things, like going 4-for-4 and batting .300 a couple of months into the season. But none of it would be possible without putting in the effort.

“I always feel like the work allows you to go up there and feel comfortable,” Lowrie said. “If you’re not putting in the work, it’s hard to justify the feeling of being comfortable.”

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