Loewen expected to be put on DL today


May 27, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Roster changes initiated by the Orioles this week apparently won't be restricted to the major league level. Elite prospects also are vulnerable.

The Orioles are prepared to put Adam Loewen, the fourth overall selection in the 2002 draft, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left rib cage. The move is expected to come today, which would allow the organization to backdate it to Tuesday.

Loewen has been scratched from his past two starts at Single-A Delmarva because of the injury, which became apparent during a bullpen session after his most recent appearance. The discomfort remained as he warmed up before a game last week, and Shorebirds manager Bien Figueroa pulled him from the mound.

"We figured he would skip one start and we'd see where he was, but he was still a little sore," said Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations. "We'll go ahead and disable him and take our time and get it right."

The Orioles shut down Loewen last year after seven starts at Single-A short-season Aberdeen, but only as a precaution. They didn't want to risk an arm injury in his first pro season after he signed late.

Hindered early by his erratic control, Loewen is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA in seven games. He has walked 24 in 33 2/3 innings.

Reliever Ryan Childs, who pitched at Damascus High and Clemson University, will move up from extended spring training to take Loewen's spot on the Shorebirds' roster. Jim Johnson, a fifth-round pick in 2001, has replaced him in the rotation.

A minor league player can come off the DL after seven days, as opposed to the 15-day minimum in the majors.

"This is just a little strain," Rodgers said. "What you don't want is for him to throw and have it affect his delivery. We're just going to make sure it's not a four- to six-week thing. It's better to treat a strain now than a pull later."

Double-A outfielder Val Majewski had a similar injury this year but came off the DL once he was eligible.

Checking on Mondesi

The Orioles have contacted a representative for free-agent outfielder Raul Mondesi, who said they are among three teams interested in signing him.

Executive vice president Jim Beattie spoke with agent Jeff Moorad, but indicated that he's not close to an agreement that would bring Mondesi to Baltimore.

"You always make a phone call, but it's very, very preliminary," Beattie said. "When players like that become available, you want to do your due diligence."

Mondesi, 33, said the Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels are interested in returning him to the majors.

"If I'm going to sign, it will happen before the end of the week," he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "There are other clubs interested in me, but I want a team that has an opportunity to advance to the postseason."

Beattie said his discussion with Moorad came before right fielder Jay Gibbons left Tuesday's game with back spasms.

Mondesi was batting .283 with two homers and 14 RBIs before walking out on the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 7 and returning to his Dominican home to fight a lawsuit. The Pirates released him last week, citing breach of contract, and he cleared waivers.

Mondesi made $13 million last season, but he signed with the Pirates for $1.75 million. He's a career .276 hitter with 266 homers in 12 seasons.

Back sidelines Gibbons

Gibbons was held out of the lineup because of spasms in his left lower back, and the team doesn't know if he'll go on the DL. He was examined at the ballpark, and the Orioles are listing him as day-to-day.

"You just want to make sure it doesn't get any worse, cover all your ground," head trainer Richie Bancells said. "Backs are a funny thing. The pain could be gone tomorrow, or you can get to the point where it's going to take longer."

Gibbons left Tuesday's game in the ninth inning after lining a single into right field. He was helped off the field.

"It's still stiff, but it's better than it was yesterday," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

"We're just going to watch him and see how he is tomorrow."

Yankees switch starters

The Yankees changed pitchers for tonight, with Jose Contreras replacing Kevin Brown.

Brown has been excused to attend to "personal business," leaving the start to Contreras, who's 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA.

Sun staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.

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