What is Noah Lowry up to?
It's a question nearly every Giants fan has uttered at least once since he last took the mound for San Francisco in August 2007. Lowry won a career-high 14 games that year, and while fans expected his devastating change-up to be a staple in the Giants rotation, health dictated otherwise.
Four surgeries in three years due to severe nerve damage have left Lowry's business arm unable to perform at a major-league level.
"It doesn't look like baseball is going to be in my future," Lowry said on Chronicle Live Thursday in an effective statement of retirement. "It's coming out my neck and my back and heading into my extremities; both my upper extremities. They say it's going to continue to deteriorate. I've got rapidly deteriorating discs up top."
If it were up to the doctors, Lowry would have a fifth and invasive operation -- spinal fusion. Spinal fusion is performed on individuals with disc problems in which two or more vertebra are fused together to form a solid spinal area. The operation eliminates movement in the affected area of the spine and would leave Lowry's upper body stiff.
"I'm not there," said Lowry. "I'm not going to do that yet. I can still go. I still have my legs about me and my body is still strong.
"I can still go out and throw myself off something."
Still go out and throw?
"No, no, no," he clarified. "Throw my body off a jump or down a rail or something."
Lowry, a self-proclaimed outdoorsman and extreme sport enthusiast, has invested in Santa Rosa Ski and Sport, which had its grand re-opening last weekend. It's not the only endeavor the former baseball pro is pursuing. Perpetual rehabilitation leaves you with a lot of free time, especially when you are apt to rise at 6 a.m. every morning to get it out of the way, like Lowry was.
"I'm kinda a rehab machine now," Lowry said. "But you still have the rest of the day to take advantage of life."
The 32-year old is doing just that. He is now married with two girls and resides in Santa Rosa, where he is proud of his involvement with the ski shop, Global Network Recruiting and the pursuit of a greener planet. It keeps the lefty plenty busy, but, to be sure, there are times when Lowry looks up and wonders what could have been.
"There's definitely part of me that misses the game," Lowry said, whose contract with the Giants included an option that, if picked up, would have made him a member of the Giants' 2010 World Series squad.
"I'm so happy for the team, the city, that organization and what I still consider a family over there," said Lowry, with a bittersweet smile. "I was jumping around in front of my TV just the same."
Lowry was a fan favorite in San Francisco right out of the gate. He began his Giants tenure by going 7-0 and owns a career record of 40-31 with a 4.03 ERA. He was the only member of the Giants' 2005 starting rotation not to miss a start, leading the team that year in wins, innings, ERA and strikeouts. Lowry led the team in wins again in 2007, but it marked his final year playing professional ball, and there won't be a comeback attempt any time soon.
"Definitely no more throwing. It's 'click-clack-bing-bang-boom' in there," he admitted while rotating his left shoulder in a less-than-smooth rotation. "Twenty-five percent is about the strongest I've been able to get it to."
Lowry boasts that he still has enough strength to pick up his two little girls, and even throw them batting practice if necessary -- underhanded of course. When I asked if his change-up was as devastating underhand as it was overhand, he laughed.
"It's slow and slower these days," he said. "But I'm happy."
Lowry, who hasn't frequented AT&T Park too often the past six years, graciously accepted Jim Kozimor's request to join "Say Hey Tuesday" this season at Willie Mays Plaza. Until that appearance, no need to wonder what Noah Lowry is up to.
What is Noah Lowry up to?