Loewen arrives eager to help O's

Touted lefty to be used in relief at first

Halama starts

May 24, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

SEATTLE — Late Orioles game: Last night's game between the Orioles and Mariners in Seattle ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at www.baltimoresun.com.

SEATTLE -- His pitching staff in shambles, Sam Perlozzo was asked if the latest addition to his rotation, Adam Loewen, was ready to take on major league hitters.

The Orioles manager thought about it for a second, before admitting that even he was not sure.

"You'll all know [if he is ready] the same time as I do." Perlozzo told reporters before last night's game against the Seattle Mariners. "I certainly hope so. I talked to [Double-A Bowie pitching coach] Scotty McGregor today and he told me pretty much all good stuff about him. His breaking ball was really good, his command is much improved. He's throwing downhill. He had an idea on how to hold runners - all good things."

The Orioles had considered starting Loewen, a 22-year-old left-hander, in last night's game. Hayden Penn, the scheduled starter who was recalled to take Daniel Cabrera's spot in the rotation, underwent an emergency appendectomy and was forced to go on the disabled list.

However, Perlozzo opted to go with veteran left-hander John Halama, who has 119 career starts. Instead, he said that he could use Loewen, who had a 4-2 record with a 2.72 ERA for Bowie, in a relief role. Depending on how Halama performs, Loewen will be on schedule to make his first major league start on Sunday in Los Angeles.

"I'd like to see Johnny go as far as he can possibly take us." said Perlozzo, whose team lost its third straight game, 8-6, on Monday against the Mariners. 'We'll see where we are in the game, let that dictate what happens the rest of the way.

"In the meantime, we've got Adam Loewen up here. We're here to take a look at some of these guys. We're going to need them sooner or later."

Loewen, who was born and resides in British Columbia, approx imately two hours north of Seattle, described the promotion as bittersweet because he is a close friend of Penn's.

"Obviously, I'm totally excited to be here." said Loewen. "I can't wait to get on the field and contribute as much as I can."

Loewen was the Orioles' first-round selection in the 2002 draft. This is the last year that Loewen has options left on his contract, so if the Orioles have to send him down next season, he would have to be exposed to waivers.

"I've made huge strides since last year." said Loewen. "I wanted to make it on my own, not just because my contract said I had to be up here. I wanted to do it for myself."

Nobody has ever questioned Loewen's stuff, but the criticism of him is that he lacks the necessary command and walks too many batters. At Double-A this year, he has walked 26 batters in 49 2/3 innings. Perlozzo said that the reports are that his command has improved.

"When I'm in the strike zone, I'm making quality pitches." Loewen said. "I used to get behind a lot of counts. When I tried to come back, I'd just lay it over the middle of the plate. Now I can bear down and hit the corners. When I do get behind, I'm walking less people than I have in the past, but it's something I still need to work on a lot."

Loewen said that he hopes his performance in the World Baseball Classic this spring, where he helped pitch Team Canada to an upset win over Team U.S.A, will help him make the transition to the major leagues.

"I think it's going to help a lot with my first big league appearance, whether it's today, tomorrow or down the road." Loewen said.

"Having that game under my belt, it felt like that was my first big league start. I got all those things out of the way. Now I know I can compete at this level. Hopefully, I can just take care of business there. I don't want to assume anything. I just want to let my performance dictate whether I should be here or not."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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