No stranger to change, Lowrie handles latest move

No stranger to change, Lowrie handles latest move

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jed Lowrie's return to Oakland meant a return to second base, and the A's veteran is taking both moves in stride.

"It's a very different team," Lowrie said, "but coming back and knowing that you have the foundation that was the same makes it a lot better, because you know what to expect."

Lowrie finds comfort in playing under manager Bob Melvin, and between them exists a fundamental base of trust and respect -- the core of conversations like the ones spurred by position changes.

Lowrie, 31, knows all about them. After securing a permanent home at shortstop with the A's in 2013-14, he was asked by the Astros to slide over to third base last summer in the wake of Carlos Correa's arrival. Then Oakland came beckoning for his services again, snatched up the switch-hitting veteran via trade this offseason and welcomed him back to its infield, albeit on a different side.

With Marcus Semien nestled in at shortstop for the A's, Lowrie is back at second base, a position he hasn't played regularly since college, and not once since 2013. He's logged a mere 58 games in eight Major League seasons at the position.

Lowrie has been receptive to yet another move; he always is, so long as he's not expected to do it on a weekly basis. For years, he's expressed his desire to remain at one position, despite his versatility.

"That's all I've asked for, right? The opportunity to play one position every day, so you can kind of just be on cruise control, so to speak, defensively, where you don't have to think about things, you just react," Lowrie said. "That's all I've asked for, and as a player, I just want the coaching staff and my manager to know what my preference is, and they can use that information accordingly."

There's potential, however, for an Opening Day roster that doesn't include Eric Sogard, which would leave Lowrie as the lone backup shortstop, which is why he's occasionally been seen taking grounders over there.

Lowrie's RBI double

"We have to be ready for any possible scenario depending on what our 25-man roster looks like," Melvin said.

Lowrie is admittedly still adjusting to the right side of the infield. There are instinctive actions at the position still to be relearned, though Melvin has continually raved about Lowrie's play there this spring, saying, "He's looked really comfortable at second. It looks like it's like riding a bike for him."

Infield coach Ron Washington has essentially said the same. But does it feel that way?

"That's the thing about these infield positions. It's really easy to say that they're all the same, but they're not," Lowrie said. "I do have some experience there, so the footwork is buried deep within the vault somewhere, and it's just about getting those reps and bringing it back out.

"Double plays, in particular, like when I'm receiving a ground ball and flipping it to second, the timing of that play is the one where I'm just going to have to get in more game situations to know how hard I need to flip it, get it on the right spot, the timing of that play. Everything else has been pretty smooth."

Lowrie's double-play partner is just as much of a work in progress, though Semien, who committed a Major League-high 35 errors last season, appears more polished by the day amid ceaseless work with Washington.

"I think he's got all the ability, it's just a matter of him continuing to work at it, and you see that every day with him and Wash," Lowrie said. "He's out there working so hard, and I think that's all you can do as a player. You can want to get better or you're just happy with who you are, and with the amount of work he's putting in, you can tell he wants to get better. And that's not something that happens overnight."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.