Mets' Shawn Bowman Enjoys Career-Altering Offseason





NEW YORK—The two top moments of third baseman Shawn Bowman's seven-year professional career came near the end of last year.

First, he hit .275 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 14 starts to help lead Canada to a bronze medal in the World Cup in Europe. Then the Mets added Bowman to the 40-man roster and offered the 25-year-old his first invitation to big league spring training.

"No. 1, that's the highest finish Canada ever had in the tournament," said Bowman, a 12th-round pick in 2002 from British Columbia. "No. 2, the guys on the team were great and we had a blast. And we obviously represented our country well."

From the moment Bowman arrived in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at age 17, he was a solid defensive third baseman. Back woes, however, limited him to a combined 93 games from 2006 through '08.

Bowman needed surgery in July 2007, during which doctors removed a disc and fused vertebrae together with four screws and two rods. Only last season did Bowman seemingly put the issue behind him. He hit .294/.346/.458 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 91 games for Double-A Binghamton, his heaviest action since playing in 116 games in 2004 with low Class A Capital City.

"That was the first year since '06 that I had broken spring-training camp healthy," Bowman said. "That was a bonus for me. Not having an injury with that part of my back—I did miss some time on the DL, but it was more of an upper-back strain as opposed to the lower-back issues I've had before."

Bowman partly attributes his solid defense at third base to an insignificant injury when he joined the organization for his first instructional league after signing in August 2002.

"My wrist was bugging me, so I couldn't swing," Bowman said. "I ended up taking 400 or 500 ground balls a day.

"That definitely helped and got me into what pro ball was all about and what it teaches. And then I think I had that intuition. I've never been a fast runner, but for some reason I get good reads on balls."

METAMORPHOSES

Sandy Alomar Sr., who was replaced as bench coach on the major league staff, is expected to return to the organization and work with a Rookie-level team.

• The Mets signed Luke Montz to a minor league deal just as the catcher came off a miserable year in the Nationals system in which he batted .181/.288/.313 in 103 games, mostly in Double-A. He received a 10-game cup of coffee with Washington in 2008.