Loewen set to face former mates
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Adam Loewen made his major-league debut as a position player on Wednesday night. The Blue Jays outfielder will face his former team, the Orioles, starting on Friday night. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - It truly must get old for the Orioles to come to Toronto and routinely get kicked in the groin by the one team in the AL East that you’d think they might have a chance to beat.
The last two seasons, the Jays have won 25 of 33 games against Baltimore.
This trip in, it will be additionally sickening for the O’s to look across the diamond and see a guy in a Blue Jays shirt who, under different circumstances, might have been the kind of stud left-handed Orioles pitcher able to do something about that tawdry record.
When drafted in the first round, fourth overall, out of Surrey, B.C., by the Orioles in 2002, Adam Loewen was, at the time, the highest Canadian draft choice ever. He didn’t sign right away, but when he did, just before the 2003 draft, the Orioles paid him $4.02 million.
As Baltimore’s top pitching prospect, he rose through the minors for three years before making his debut with the O’s in 2006. Early in the 2007 season, Loewen suffered the injury — a stress fracture to his left elbow — that would, a year later after unsuccessful surgery, end his pitching career.
By mid-July 2008, Loewen was done as a pitcher but decided to pursue a comeback as a position player. Baltimore was interested but so were several other clubs, including Toronto and during the off-season he signed with the Jays, heading back to class-A Dunedin to begin his transformation.
That three-season process has brought Loewen back, full-circle, to the big leagues at the age of 27 and Wednesday he reached a proud milestone with his first major-league hit, a single against Boston’s Daniel Bard. It was his first day in the majors after hitting .306 with 17 homers and 85 RBIs this season at triple-A Las Vegas.
“I always loved to hit more than I liked to pitch,” Loewen said. “I think that it wasn’t that I guaranteed myself to get back here, just that I knew I was going to enjoy doing it and a lot of people believed in me.
“I had a lot of help along the way to make this possible, and the best part about it is that it’s not over yet, it’s not a success yet. Just getting here ... was never my intention. I wanted to go as far as I could.”
Because the Jays had to add Loewen to the 40-man roster to bring him to the majors this year, they can control his rights at least until they have to make a decision at the end of spring training in 2012.
Even if the Jays decide to take a pass after further evaluation, Loewen will once again be an intriguing possibility for some other teams. Maybe even the Orioles.