Loewen's plan: Have no fear

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 03, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Adam Loewen knows that he can't think too much about facing Derek Jeter and possibly Alex Rodriguez today. His first major league start would be nerve-racking enough, even if it weren't against the Yankees.

"Yeah, it's a pretty big deal when the Yankees come to town," the rookie left-hander said. "You can see around the city there's a little more traffic than usual. I'm excited. But I'm not going to go out there and pitch afraid."

Loewen has experience pitching on a big stage. He started the first game of the World Baseball Classic for Canada and beat a United States squad that included Jeter and Rodriguez.

"I just want to be aggressive in the strike zone, and good pitches will get just about any hitter out," he said.

Loewen has a 9.64 ERA in 4 2/3 innings of relief for the Orioles since being called up from Double-A Bowie. Manager Sam Perlozzo initially seemed to be leaning toward starting John Halama today. But he said he didn't want to keep a top prospect such as Loewen without using him.

Perlozzo said he wasn't sure if a good start today would earn Loewen more time in the big league rotation.

Loewen has already learned a few lessons about major league hitters. "One pitch can make a good outing into a bad outing," he said. "Up here, they capitalize on mistakes that you make."

He said he found trouble against the Los Angeles Angels last weekend by relying too much on his fastball. But he was proud of his recovery from a bad inning.

"I pitched some of the best baseball in that game that I've pitched all year," he said. "I was getting my curveball over for strikes. I wasn't just relying on my fastball."

Spotty command has hampered Loewen's career in the minors, but he knows he can't afford to get behind the potent Yankees hitters.

"If we can keep him in sync the majority of the time," Perlozzo said, "I think he'll hold his own."

Gibbons goes on DL

The Orioles had hoped right fielder Jay Gibbons would return from hip and knee strains last night, but instead he was placed on the 15-day disabled list after sitting out his sixth straight game.

"He's able to hit," Perlozzo said before the game. "He's not 100 percent running yet. And you know, I just don't want to go out there too soon with him."

Gibbons strained a hip flexor and his right knee after colliding with the outfield wall in Anaheim on May 26.

Even if he were healthy, Gibbons wouldn't play today against left-hander Randy Johnson.

Patterson `fun to watch'

Center fielder Corey Patterson led the major leagues in steals with 21 going into last night's game, and he has Perlozzo beaming on a near-daily basis.

"When he comes to the plate, I always look for something exciting to happen," Perlozzo said. "He's fun to watch. That's a pretty exciting ballplayer when you put the combination of being able to hit the ball out of the ballpark, hit for an average, bunt and steal bases, then you've got a pretty good player."

Patterson's career high in steals is 32, which he did with the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Perlozzo has encouraged him to use his legs more by bunting to get on base and stealing when he reaches.

Around the horn

The Orioles have signed UMBC pitcher Zach Clark to a minor league deal. The club sent Clark to Sarasota, Fla., for extended spring training, and he is expected to be sent to Rookie-league Bluefield or Single-A Aberdeen in June. ... The Orioles will hold their annual photo day tomorrow. Fans will be allowed on the field between 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to snap pictures of players. The line will begin outside Gate D on the lower concourse. ... LaTroy Hawkins and Patterson will help conduct a clinic for Little Leaguers between 10 a.m. and noon today in Baltimore's Carroll Park.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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