One hundred and ninety-seven days after Mets officials described Jed Lowrie’s knee injury as “nothing serious” and “soreness,” the team activated the infielder from the injured list Saturday for the first time all season.
Lowrie won’t be a full-time player — at least not yet — and he said he is “still kind of building up this progression” after a series of lower-body injuries sidelined him since February. But with minor-league season nearly over and his rehabilitation experiment set to expire Monday, the Mets brought him up.
In his Mets debut, Lowrie struck out swinging against Phillies lefthander Drew Smyly in a pinch-hit appearance in place of Marcus Stroman.
With about three weeks to go in the regular season, Lowrie said he hopes he can still make something of his first year in a Mets uniform, now that he is actually in uniform.
“That’s the whole point,” Lowrie said. “That’s why I’m here. I’ve worked my butt off to get to the point where I could at least try to help however I can.
“I’ve obviously been frustrated with everything as far as the setbacks and everything that’s happened, but I put in a lot of time and effort to just get to this point. So whatever I can do.”
After signing a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets in January, Lowrie, a former client of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, dealt with knee pain early in spring training. The Mets called it “soreness behind his left knee” and then a sprained left knee capsule.
In May, as he rehabbed with Triple-A Syracuse, Lowrie was nearly ready to return — the club thought it was a strong possibility that he would be active for a home game on Friday, May 10 — but he decided he needed more minor-league reps and would stay with Syracuse for the weekend.
That’s when Lowrie strained his left hamstring. Then came left hip issues and ambiguous problems with his left side generally, according to periodic updates from manager Mickey Callaway and Van Wagenen.
“I don’t know if out of whack is the right way to say it, but there were a lot of nagging things at one time,” Lowrie said. “You had a couple setbacks on top of that.”
In July, it was a right calf strain. Lowrie began a rehab assignment Aug. 20, and in a dozen games with three affiliates he played a full game in the field once.
It’s not clear what role Lowrie will have with the Mets.
“There might be an opportunity where, when we face a lefthanded pitcher, he’s the only guy that plays second base that would be up there hitting righthanded,” Callaway said. “Maybe he can start in that scenario if everything is going good.
“Having a switch-hitter off the bench is big. It allows you to do several things, especially in September when they can have 5,000 pitchers warming up and ready. So that’s a big advantage for us.”
Either way, Lowrie, 35, at least is an active player at the end of an arduous season. Four times in a six-minute interview, Lowrie said “you find a way to keep moving forward,” and it seems he has done that.
“There’s really no choice,” Lowrie said. “I’m certainly not a young player anymore, so you just try to manage the best that you can. I’m here to do whatever I can the rest of the year, continue to progress and hopefully go into the offseason in a strong position.”
September call-ups of another sort: Syracuse manager Tony DeFrancesco and hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis joined the Mets’ staff this weekend for the rest of the season. And baserunning/outfield coordinator Marlon Anderson was already with the team. It’s normal for a team to add a minors coach in September, and this is DeFrancesco’s second year in a row doing so … Edwin Diaz has allowed 14 homers this year, one more than Nationals ace Max Scherzer in about one-third of the innings. Any theories on that long-ball problem? “Bad pitches,” Callaway said.