Loewen not giving up on return to rotation

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Left-hander confident he can start this season

Notebook

June 07, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

TORONTO -- Adam Loewen is fine with the plan for now. He understands why the Orioles want him to take it slow. He can see the Orioles' logic of using him out of the bullpen once his rehabilitation stint is over later this month.

But as far as Loewen is concerned, the switch doesn't jeopardize his future status in the Orioles' rotation.

"I do see myself as a starter, and I'm not going to rule out the possibility of coming back as a starter this year," Loewen said in a phone interview yesterday. "I'm going to have to see how things go. Whatever they want to do is fine by me, but I wouldn't rule that out just yet. I don't anticipate any problems, so I don't see why I couldn't start again this year."

Loewen, who has been on the disabled list since April 25 with left elbow soreness, is scheduled to throw a simulated game today at the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. He will then likely head north for what is expected to be a three-week rehabilitation assignment. When he returns to the big leagues, Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Loewen will pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the season.

The move will allow the left-hander, 24, to build up strength in his elbow, which was operated on last June.

"My arm strength is great right now because I had two weeks of rest and long tossing, and that got my arm strength up," he said. "Once I started hitting the mound, I felt it come back right away. I have no pain anywhere in my arm. I'm feeling great, and that's a huge relief because I didn't know what I was up against.

"I have a lot of confidence that I'll be able to start again. The biggest thing for me is not worrying about my arm when I'm on the mound. When you're on the mound and there is something wrong, I was basically thinking, `What can I do to make this next pitch not hurt?' When you do that, you're not thinking of the game plan. That hindered me a lot in the first month, but I feel great now."

Day 2 ends

The Orioles selected 50 players in the baseball first-year player draft, which ended yesterday with the club continuing its attempt to upgrade the athleticism and the left-handed pitching depth in the organization.

Eleven of the Orioles' picks were left-handed pitchers, and four of the Orioles' first five picks were players who had stolen 30 or more bases this past season. Their second-round pick, high school outfielder Xavier Avery, has signed a letter of intent to play running back at the University of Georgia. Their fourth-round pick, outfielder Kyle Hudson, played wide receiver on the University of Illinois football team.

Asked whether he's confident that the club will sign Avery, scouting director Joe Jordan said: "I've got no doubt in my mind. ... We feel very confident that we're going to be able to sign all the guys that we took in the top rounds. We're going to go to work on it tonight.

"We got what we wanted," he said. "We took a lot of left-handed pitchers we needed to and a lot of top-flight runners. Every one of these guys was a target for us."

Among the Orioles' second-day picks with local connections were outfielder Brian Conley (Towson), catcher Chad Durakis (Maryland, St. Paul's) and right-handed pitchers Kevin Brady (Gaithersburg) and Oliver Drake (Navy).

Showing some pop

Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar is not pleased with the .244 average he took into last night's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

But Millar is providing the Orioles with something they are in desperate need of - power from the middle of their order. A solo home run last night gave Millar 11 homers and 31 RBIs for the season. Millar, who finished last season with 17 homers and 63 RBIs, didn't hit his 10th homer last year until July 27. He didn't reach the 30-RBI plateau until July 4.

"I think it's consistent playing time," said Millar, who has started all but one game this season. "The game is hard enough to play and try to do well without putting added pressure on yourself to have to get a hit or you're not going to play the next day."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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