MESA, Ariz. — Doctors have done lots of repair work on Jed Lowrie since you last saw him in the A’s lineup, and he hopes that translates to a better season than what he endured a year ago.
Lowrie reported to camp on a rain-soaked Saturday in the desert, saying he enjoyed a productive winter coming off surgery to repair ligament damage and remove a bunion and cyst in his left foot. The switch-hitting second baseman was running by mid-November and says he essentially did the same offseason training he would normally do if not coming back from an injury.
“I haven’t talked to them about what they plan for me this spring, but I’ve done everything I can this offseason — running in spikes on the field, hitting on the field,” Lowrie said. “I just need to be in a team setting now, and I feel great.”
Just as beneficial might be another procedure he had in September to correct a deviated nasal septum, which affected his breathing while he slept and thus his quality of rest.
“If you look at it, how constricted my airway was, I’ve probably been sleep-deprived for nine years,” Lowrie said. “That’s not something that changes overnight, but that certainly made a big difference in my training and everything this offseason. I would sleep nine to 10 hours at night before and wake up still feeling tired. I was trying to figure out what was going on.”
Lowrie and wife Milessa recently welcomed their second child, Miles, and Lowrie joked that he’s gotten better sleep while caring for a four-month-old son than he did before his nasal surgery.
The 32-year-old was limited to 87 games last season, hitting .263 with two homers and just 27 RBI. After his season ended in early August, the A’s eventually promoted Joey Wendle from Triple-A Nashville, and he showed some nice flashes as the regular second baseman. Another rookie, Chad Pinder, also got some innings there. But manager Bob Melvin made it clear that Lowrie remains his starting second baseman if fully healthy.
With that in mind, Melvin said Lowrie will have a light playing schedule early in the Cactus League season, which begins next Saturday for Oakland.
“Veterans like him, I probably don’t bring along as quickly, especially with the amount of games (the A’s have), but as far as actually being out there physically, he’s ready to go.”
Melvin likes to say he can bat Lowrie anywhere in the order and the switch hitter adapts well. Should Lowrie bat second, where he spent most of last season when healthy, he’ll have a new leadoff man in front of him with Rajai Davis.
“He’s a great leadoff guy, a great speed player,” Lowrie said. “He’s been around this league a long time and knows how to do it.”
Lowrie, who will earn $6.5 million in the final season of a three-year contract he signed with Houston, got plenty of work in the batting cage over the winter. He also got through agility drills with no problem, and that could help him defensively.
“I look back at last year, how compromised I was and all the adjustments you make to try to play when you’re hurt,” he said. “I’ve gotten into a good routine to try to correct some of those bad habits that were created last year.”