Lowry moves on after pitching career cut short

Noah Lowry can barely hold his two young daughters with his left

arm, let alone contemplate ever throwing another pitch.

Even the simple task of taking the mound for a ceremonial first

toss practically makes him cringe. Lowry insists that would be

impossible with his troublesome left side and the regular pain he

still experiences despite four surgeries.

The very arm that made Lowry a first-round draft pick and landed

him a long-term contract at age 25 forced him out of baseball.

”I miss it. A big part of me misses it,” Lowry said. ”But

that’s life. Life is a lot of twists and turns. It’s a big part of

who I am and what I was.”

Now, he is in a good place – three years after his career ended

prematurely with a canceled throwing session, and nearly six years

since he last pitched in a major league game for the Giants.

Experiencing tingling and nerve problems in his pitching arm,

Lowry missed the final month in 2007 and still led San Francisco

with 14 wins.

These days, he lives just 55 miles north of AT&T Park in the

Sonoma wine country, where he and two partners bought Santa Rosa

Ski and Sports last August. He joined the Chamber of Commerce and

makes time to speak with young athletes.

Lowry is proud that his former Giants franchise captured two

World Series titles in the past three years.

”I feel like that ring is here already,” he said, touching his

heart with his hand. ”You’re with them emotionally.”

Lowry will return to the ballpark one day and revisit all the

memories of a career cut short, even the most painful ones. The

Giants say they will welcome him back whenever that day

arrives.

As much as he would love to fling one last pitch – in a game or

otherwise – the 32-year-old knows full well his shoulder, neck,

forearm and elbow would tell him no.

”I could lob it up there, then click, clap, pop, boom, bang,

bing,” he said, demonstrating near his store’s sales counter a

circular motion of just how poorly his arm would perform. ”That’s

not how I want to be remembered.”

Not with a shoulder that has never recovered from all the wear

and tear, a left arm that has endured operations on each side of

his elbow, and a troublesome neck that will one day require fusing

and cause him to ”move like a robot,” as he puts it. He will

avoid that procedure as long as possible so he can continue to be

active with his children and do things he loves, like golf.

Lowry, selected 30th overall by San Francisco in the 2001

amateur draft, underwent four operations in three years, including

the opening of his upper chest area near the neck for the removal

of a couple of ribs to relieve a circulatory problem.

He knows the Giants medical staff tried to make him right.

”I have issues all over the place,” Lowry said with a smile of

his current self. ”Those guys over there, that staff, they’re good

people. They did everything they could possibly try to do with my

best interest at hand, their best interest. That organization is a

model organization, it really is, and should be respected and is

respected. Life moves on for us all, right?”

In the spring of 2008, he was diagnosed with exertional

compartment syndrome, an exercise-induced neuromuscular condition.

He struggled with control at spring training, returned to the Bay

Area for further tests and had surgery to repair the rare nerve

problem in his forearm.

He had hoped to return by mid-April but still was experiencing

the tingling sensation in his arm. Lowry rehabilitated that entire

season, then underwent arthroscopic surgery after the year on the

back of his pitching elbow to remove bone spurs.

By the time of Lowry’s neck procedure in May 2009, Lowry’s

agent, Damon Lapa, had accused the Giants of misdiagnosing the

pitcher.

”The Giants organization and its medical staff have always

treated Noah Lowry’s condition appropriately and with the utmost

care,” the team responded in a statement then. ”We have never

performed any medically inappropriate procedures on Mr.

Lowry.”

Lowry is long past all of that. The Giants are, too – both sides

saddened he couldn’t keep pitching for the organization.

Lowry went 40-31 with a 4.03 ERA in 100 big league starts and

six relief appearances in parts of five big league seasons. He

earned nearly $11 million from major league contracts and his

signing bonus out of college.

”You hate to see anybody’s career end early,” Giants assistant

general manager Bobby Evans said. ”We drafted him. I’m a big Noah

Lowry guy. I remember him right after he signed, all the way to the

big leagues, his success, a multiyear deal. Nothing but good things

to say about Noah Lowry. It’s hard. I’m sure he was just going

through the difficulties of being hurt, year after year trying to

get yourself right. I know it was frustrating. He’s always been a

great kid. He’ll always be a Giant for us.”

The last the baseball world knew, Lowry was scheduled to throw

for scouts from about half the major league clubs in February 2010.

But it was too soon, Lowry’s body told him so. He hasn’t been on a

mound since.

”Time falls off the map,” Lowry said. ”It was a wild ride

there for a little bit, but all things that I needed. It was, `Wow,

this is OK, but no it’s not OK and things are still going on, we’re

trying to get it better and things are still going on.”’

The low-key, outgoing Lowry – who was first on a pair of skis at

about age 5 – goes to work in a T-shirt and jeans, a black ”Nor

Cal” cap with the brim flipped up and his brown curly hair poking

out the back.

He is having a blast using some of business skills he learned at

Pepperdine, and others he taught himself by dabbling in the real

estate business and turning over houses while rehabilitating all

his injuries in Arizona. On a recent Sunday, the owners closed the

shop at one of the busiest areas of Santa Rosa and took their

entire staff on an outing to Lake Tahoe for one final day on the

slopes.

Still, it hurts to hold his daughters, 2-year-old Averlee Rose

and nearly 3-month-old Anniston. While Lowry can still golf, other

activities that require gripping present a challenge. He is

committed to a healthy diet and says, ”I stay away from things I

can’t do.”

There are no hard feelings now, and Lowry isn’t bitter about the

altered path of his career or life. He and his wife, Andrea, would

love to expand their family eventually – ”keep the family name

going,” Lowry said of adding a boy to his brood.

”Early on it was an emotional breakup, I feel like, but at the

same time, it’s water under the bridge in my world,” Lowry said.

”There were a lot of things I had to have done moving forward from

there. I’m just at a point in my life, from a physical standpoint

I’m beat up, I’m broken up. But I still have the rest of my body

and life about me and I gave everything I could give there, my

blood, sweat and tears, literally everything. I take from it a good

experience.”

Andrea Lowry wouldn’t change things, despite how tough it was to

see her husband go through the injuries and early exit from the

game he so loved.

”I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason,” she

said. ”We feel blessed for the time that we spent with the San

Francisco Giants organization. Although at times the experience

tested our faith and strength, we move forward with great memories,

not to mention lasting friendships. … If I can tell you one thing

about Noah, it is that he is exceedingly driven, so I am truly

eager to see what the future holds for us and our two beautiful

daughters.”

And he will keep holding those little girls with his good

arm.

”Life brings us all sorts of things. Everything needed to

happen,” Lowry said. ”I’m left with what I’m left with, and I’m

still 80 percent good. I’ve still got my mind and body about me,

and the arm – I’ve got one of them.”