Club insists Loewen isn't injured

ORIOLE NOTEBOOK

No plans to move Albers into starting role, Trembley says

April 23, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

SEATTLE -- The Orioles maintain that Adam Loewen, whose scheduled start last night in the series opener with the Seattle Mariners was pushed back to tomorrow, is not injured. Monday's day off simply gave the Orioles the luxury of pushing him back a couple of days to work on his poor fastball command, while keeping Jeremy Guthrie and Daniel Cabrera on regular rest.

However, that didn't stop manager Dave Trembley from saying yesterday that he might limit Loewen's pitch count to about 100 or 110 in coming starts.

"I may not go anymore than that with him until at least the second half of the season," Trembley said. "Just the fact that he is coming off surgery, that's all. Sooner or later with the schedule falling like it is, we're not going to be able to get him extra days. I'm not saying that's set in stone right now. I'm just saying that's something I'm thinking about doing.

"Loewen is fine. ... I think some success would do wonders for him and the ability to go deep into the game and cut down on his walks. That's what he needs to do."

Loewen, who had a screw inserted in his left elbow to repair a stress fracture in June, is 0-1 with a 6.32 ERA in three starts. He has given up 16 hits and walked 12 batters in 15 2/3 innings. Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz has worked with him extensively in bullpen sessions, but Loewen has been unable to take that form into the game, leaving far too many balls up in the strike zone.

Loewen, who attributes his problems to rust after missing nearly the entire 2007 season, acknowledged that he was disappointed that his start was pushed back, but he understood why the club made the decision.

"Yeah, it's tough because I want to be the guy that they come to, to go on short rest," Loewen said. "I don't want to be the guy that gets skipped, but the way Daniel and Jeremy are pitching right now, that's an easy decision. I'm not offended by it because they're pitching better than I am."

Not going anywhere

Despite Matt Albers' early success this season, Trembley said the club has no plans to move him out of the long-relief role and into the starting rotation. Albers has allowed one earned run in 13 1/3 innings with all but one of his six appearances coming in relief.

"The way we're set up down the road, I think he fits in rather nicely as a long reliever," Trembley said. "He's really a valuable guy. He's almost like a sixth starter, but right now, I see his forte as being a long guy.

"I don't think it's that he doesn't have the stuff to be a starter. I think it's just his value to us is as a long guy. I think if you use him on our club right now as a starting pitcher, you're opening up a hole in our bullpen that I'm not so sure we can fill right now."

Training room

Fernando Cabrera was back on the mound facing opposing hitters yesterday. Cabrera, who had offseason elbow surgery, threw 12 pitches and one inning in an extended spring training game. Trembley said Cabrera will take two days off and make another appearance this week. He would like Cabrera to throw back-to-back days before going on a rehabilitation assignment with one of the Orioles' affiliates.

No Bedard

The Orioles will have to wait until at least August before getting a chance to face their former ace. Erik Bedard, whom the Orioles traded to the Mariners in February, was eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow and could have started against his former team in the series finale. However, he'll throw a bullpen session tomorrow, and if all goes well, he'll be activated in time to start Saturday.

Bedard was originally scheduled to face the Orioles at Camden Yards the first weekend of the season, but he was scratched the night before the game because of left hip inflammation. The Orioles and Mariners play one more series this year the first weekend in August at Safeco Field.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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