Backup infielder Jed Lowrie is expected to battle Scutaro for the gig next spring training after making an emphatic return from injuries and mononucleosis.
Lowrie burst on the scene in 2008 and despite wrist problems that proved a harbinger to come, hit .258/.339/.400 in 306 plate appearances. He later underwent wrist surgery and had several setbacks that limited him to 76 nondescript trips to the plate in 2009. He finally seemed on the road to recovery and a year-long spot as a backup infielder but then mono knocked him out of the game.
"He had a real uncertain first half of the season with his health, not only battling the wrist thing that’s lingered for a couple of years, but the mono," general manager Theo Epstein told the Boston Globe .
Lowrie came back to be a force in the second half, knocking nine home runs in 197 PA, ending with a .287/.381/.526 line. While that power is a bit above and beyond what can be expected, Lowrie equipped himself in the field and at the plate enough that Scutaro's hold on the job is in question.
"To look at where he was back in May and then where he is now, feeling good about himself and having everyone feel good about him is a good accomplishment," Epstein added. "He was a very good, very consistent player for the second half of the season who’s opened a lot of eyes and is fulfilling the promise that he’s had for a long time.
"He commanded the strike zone well, he swung with authority, especially from the right side and lately from the left side as well."
Epstein threw out the names of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis -- the two players who make the Sox's offense go -- in comparison to Lowrie, saying that the 26-year-old can see the ball out of the pitcher's hand very well.
Even if Lowrie doesn't win the shortstop gig, there will be plenty of at-bats for him as the primary backup infielder and could also serve as a valuable trade chip, whether in the winter or July.-- Evan Brunell
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