Loewen's shoulder is at turning point

Discovery of torn labrum could deck top prospect for few months or a year

Orioles

September 11, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Another Orioles pitching prospect has run into a health issue, this one involving left-hander Adam Loewen, who has been found to have a torn labrum.

Loewen, the fourth pick in the 2002 draft out of British Columbia, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test Wednesday at Camden Yards. Team physician Dr. Charles Silberstein also injected dye into the shoulder, which showed the tear.

The Orioles will put Loewen on a five-week throwing program beginning Sept. 20. The best-case scenario has him ready for spring training, but if surgery is needed, he'll miss eight to 12 months.

"You just don't know whether [the program] is going to work or not, but generally that's good enough for a lot of players," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations. "If he had surgery now he'd miss most of next year. If you get to November, he'd miss most of next year. So either way, you want to take the conservative approach. You just don't know how it's going to affect each guy individually.

"We'll get him up to throwing, and throwing hard. Having had my share of torn labrums, you're OK at about 90 percent, and then you go 95 and then to 100 percent, where you're really letting it go."

Loewen left his last start at Single-A Frederick after complaining of pain in the shoulder and hearing a popping sound. Rated the top prospect in the organization by Baseball America, he was 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 20 games at Single-A Delmarva and 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two games with the Keys.

"[Silberstein] couldn't tell if he did it on that one particular pitch that Adam talks about, where he felt something and then he stiffened up during that ballgame, or it might be something that had been there for a while," Beattie said.

The Orioles signed Loewen minutes before they would have lost his rights. He received a major league contract with a $3.2 million bonus and a guaranteed value of $4.02 million.

Richard Stahl, the 18th overall pick in the 1999 draft, has been dogged by back and shoulder injuries. Beau Hale, the 14th overall selection in 2000, has missed the past two seasons because of shoulder surgery. Chris Smith, the seventh overall pick in 2001, missed last season because of shoulder surgery and was shut down this year. And Matt Riley and Erik Bedard, both in the Orioles' rotation, have recovered from ligament-transplant surgery.

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