Jason Dean Lane (born December 22, 1976 in Santa Rosa, California) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Boston Red Sox organization. He was drafted out of the sixth round in 1999. Lane graduated from El Molino High School in Forestville, California in 1995. Notably, Lane is one of those rare position players in major league history who throws left-handed but bats right-handed.
First attended Santa Rosa Junior College where he was selected as the 1997 California Junior College Northern California Player of the Year and Bay Valley Conference MVP before Transferring to University of Southern California. At Southern California Lane earned All-America honors during his senior season (1999) at USC including pitching 2.2 innings in the 1998 College World Series championship game to pick up the win and help USC to its 12th NCAA baseball championship, topping Arizona State University 21-14. Lane served as the DH in the game, going 3-6 with a ninth inning grand slam setting a CWS record with 11 hits overall, and led the tournament with a .417 batting average. Astros, Padres, and Yankees teammate Morgan Ensberg was also his college teammate on the USC national championship squad.
The Astros believed Lane’s future was at the plate rather than on the mound, so he began his professional career as a first baseman. He was later moved to the outfield because of Jeff Bagwell, who played first base.
In 2005, while hitting 26 home runs, he led the major leagues in fly ball percentage (51.3%). When asked after Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series (an 18-inning game) who would pitch if Roger Clemens had begun to tire, Astros manager Phil Garner stated that he would have had Lane pitch for the victory with Clemens taking his place in the outfield. Lane hit the last home run and made the last out at Busch Memorial Stadium on October 19, 2005.
On July 12, 2006, Lane was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock after Houston acquired utility slugger Aubrey Huff. In August, Lane was called back to the majors, and on August 29, 2006, he hit a pinch hit grand slam off Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Dan Kolb in the 8th inning.
Lane finished the 2006 season with 15 home runs, although he hit just .201 over 112 games.
Lane began the 2007 season with the Astros, but carried an abysmal .165 batting average into June. With Rookie of the Year candidate Hunter Pence's spectacular play earning him the starting job in center field, Lane became expendable and was demoted to Round Rock. On July 23, with Pence out with a fractured wrist and Lance Berkman struggling with a hand injury, Lane was called back up to the big league club. Lane had hit well at Round Rock (.308 with 8 HR and 35 RBI in just 42 games), but then again, he has always hit well at the minor league level where he has a lifetime batting average just under .300 and has hit over 100 HR. The Astros hoped that he could repeat his 2005 success and become the outfield mainstay that they had long expected him to be, but it would not happen despite Lane being given every opportunity to succeed. While Pence was on the DL, Lane received the bulk of the playing time at center field despite an abysmal .172 average as of August 12, 2007.
On August 22, 2007 Lane was demoted once more to Triple-A. The Astros recalled relief pitcher Travis Driskill to the majors to help their bullpen. Lane was recalled when rosters expanded in September. On September 24, 2007, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for cash consideration. Lane was not offered a new contract by the Padres and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.
On January 10, 2008, Lane agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees and was invited to spring training. However, he did not make the team, and was assigned to the Yankees Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. On August 19, 2008, after opting out of his contract with the Yankees, Lane signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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