Jays give Loewen some options
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays outfielder Adam Loewen is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Orioles at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Sep. 11, 2011. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)
TORONTO - The Adam Loewen experiment, a success in September, continues.
The question is: Will Loewen continue his transition from pitcher to major-league outfielder in a Blue Jays uniform?
The Jays dropped both Loewen, 27, and reliever Jesse Carlson, 30, from the 40-man roster on Thursday. Loewen can now file for free agency as a six-year minor-league free agent and may sign with any team, including the Jays. Carlson is coming off rotator cuff surgery.
“No doubt in my mind Adam’s a major-league talent,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters in a conference call Thursday. “He can play all three positions. We saw him in centre.”
The Surrey, B.C., native started 10 games in September — three games apiece in right field, centre and DH, plus one in left field — after hitting .306 with 17 homers, 85 RBIs and an .884 OPS in 134 games at triple-A Las Vegas. Loewen hit .188 with one homer and four RBIs in 14 games with the Jays.
This was Loewen’s third full season as a position player after two at-bats the previous five seasons as a Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher.
“Now, Adam would be in competition with Eric Thames and Travis Snider in left, which would have been tough,” Anthopoulos said. “I’ve told Adam there might be a log jam at triple-A, too. We had a very good outfield at (double-A) New Hampshire.”
Anthopoulos said Rajai Davis is the Jays’ fourth outfielder, while Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra are scheduled for promotions to Vegas while Darin Mastroianni split time between Vegas and New Hampshire.
While the current 40-man roster has seven open spots heading into next month’s Rule V draft, Anthopoulos explained that, had Loewen not been outrighted if he was re-signed by the Jays, he could not be promoted to the big league roster until May 15.
“This keeps his options open,” said Anthopoulos who, as assistant GM, brought Loewen to the Jays with a creative contract when it appeared as if he would re-sign with the Orioles. “We have no idea what the roster will look like. He could very well be back with us.”
Anthopoulos said he spoke to both Loewen and his agent.
ADIOS JOHNNY MAC
With fan fave John McDonald signing a two-year, $3-million US deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jose Bautista has a chance to be the most popular player with the Jays.
“John called me directly and it sounds like a great opportunity for him,” Anthopoulos said. “We weren’t in a position to make a decision yet. Depending upon what we do at second base, it may impact what we might do with the backup position.
“As much as we love him, we couldn’t move forward.”
Mike McCoy will take over McDonald’s role.
Assistant GM Tony LaCava returned to the Rogers Centre this week after turning down the GM’s job with the Orioles.
When he entered the office, scouting director, Andrew Tinnish, director of pro scouting Perry Minasian and Anthopoulos gave him a standing ovation.
CANADA MOVES UP
Thanks to gold at the Pan Ams in Mexico and a bronze at the World Cup in Panama, Canada moved up from eighth to sixth in the International Baseball Federation rankings on Thursday. Cuba, which didn’t win gold in either, remains No. 1. The United States, Korea and Japan retain the next four spots. The Netherlands is the new No. 5 after winning its first World Cup. Chinese Taipei fell to seventh and Venezuela dropped a spot to eighth. American Samoa and Malaysia share the 71st and final spot.
SCOUTS OF THE YEAR
Former Jays scouting director Bob Engle, now of the Seattle Mariners, Jays’ Mel Didier and Mike Radcliff of the Minnesota Twins were named 28th annual scout of the year winners. Engle drafted Cy Young Award winners Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay while, with the M’s, he scouted Felix Hernandez. Didier was scouting director with the Montreal Expos from 1970-75, then worked for the M’s, Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers before joining the Jays in 2009.