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Nobody knows what happened to Jed Lowrie in 2019

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He did, in fact, play in actual baseball games for the Mets this year, and that’s about the best we can say.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When the Mets signed Jed Lowrie to a 2-year, $20 million dollar contract last winter, it was a tough signing to criticize. Lowrie had just put up a combined 8 fWAR over the last two seasons, and had just made his first ever All-Star team in 2018. The fact that he was entering his age-35 season was a knock against him, but it was hard to see the infielder’s performance completely falling off after his last two seasons were career years.

As it turns out, his performance did not fall off. Instead, it was Lowrie himself who seemed to fall off the face of the Earth. In what was one of the strangest injury sagas in recent memory, a series of mysterious and ambiguous maladies wound up keeping Lowrie out for nearly the entire season.

It started in February, in the very first workouts of spring training. Lowrie was limited with what the Mets called “soreness in his left knee,” without specifying exactly what that meant. A subsequent MRI revealed “no significant damage” and the Mets did not expound on the injury, nor did Lowrie speak about it. A few days later, the Mets finally disclosed the actual injury: a strained left capsule that was said could keep him out up to six weeks.

The infielder wound up sitting out all of spring training and throughout most of April, blowing past the six weeks originally predicted. He finally started working his way back in late April—roughly nine weeks after the initial diagnosis—when he began a rehab assignment with Port St. Lucie, and quickly worked his way up to Triple-A Syracuse by May 4.

Lowrie was rehabbing well, and on track to be activated on May 10 against the Marlins. But then the Mets announced that he would not be activated yet, as they wanted to see more of him in rehab. He was then expected to be activated on May 14, until the Mets once again said he would again not be activated that day, this time offering no explanation as to why. A few hours later, it was finally reported that Lowrie had actually suffered another injury, a “slight hamstring strain” that would delay his rehab.

Lowrie was shut down, but a Grade 1 hamstring strain wasn’t thought to be something to completely sidetrack his season. 10 days later, though, Mickey Callaway said that Lowrie was still a ways away from returning. Three weeks later, there was still no update on the veteran’s condition, and it was getting rather odd. Brodie Van Wagenen was asked about his situation, and in what may be one of the strangest injury updates of all-time, all the GM could offer was that Lowrie’s entire left side was “causing him problems.”

“I’m not going to get into any more details beyond the fact that his left side needs to be working in concert with each other,” Van Wagenen said. “The knee to the hamstring, we want to make sure that the kinetic chain is working together and that his posture and his functionality is working.”

So with his kinetic chain all out of whack, Lowrie was once again deemed not close to a return. The peculiar radio silence on his condition once again persisted for another full month after that, with everyone just left to believe that Lowrie was on the shelf with an extended case of bad posture. That was until July 12, when Van Wagenen revealed that Lowrie was now dealing with a right calf strain and was, once again, not close to a return. The new injury was particularly strange since Lowrie wasn’t even doing much baseball activity, at least as far as the public knew.

With his third lower-body muscle strain of the year, and with him making no progress towards a return by late July, it began to look like Lowrie would not play at all in 2019. The Mets, never ones to be above hiding injuries and outright lying, looked very much like they were keeping some secrets here.

Lowrie’s condition remained highly-classified information until August 14 when, out of nowhere, Lowrie started playing in simulated games; no prior updates had indicated Lowrie had even begun baseball activities since his calf strain. The timing was especially interesting, as the Mets had just suddenly propelled themselves back into contention and were in desperate need of bench bats, especially ones that could play second base.

He began an official rehab assignment with Port St. Lucie six days later, in an attempt to debut in time for September roster expansion. Miraculously, he did not have any setbacks this time, and was eventually activated on September 7. Jed Lowrie was finally an active player on the New York Mets, 141 games into his first season.

Unfortunately, having missed five months and all of spring training, the 35-year-old needed much more rehab time than he had the chance to get, and was woefully under-prepared for big league action. He was visibly out of shape, never played the field, and only received eight sporadic pinch-hits over the course of the month of September. He never got a hit, struck out four times, and walked once.

The Mets were extremely evasive and vague all year when asked what was wrong with Lowrie. Often, nobody ever seemed like they could a straight answer as to what was wrong, or give any sort of timeline for his return. The veteran infielder remains a giant question mark going into 2020, with his actual medical status still fairly unclear, and with it being anyone’s guess as to how he can produce in his age-36 season after a lost year.