Loewen deals with life's twists

June 12, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Adam Loewen found himself traveling a two-way street on Monday.

The Baltimore Orioles pitcher was about to practice what he preaches by preaching of what he's practicing.

"I feel like I'm missing out on everything," said the Orioles' injured prized pitching prospect. It's tough to sit back and watch it all and swallow. But I have more than just baseball in my life ... that's what I want to tell everyone today."

Loewen came to Hagerstown along with former Oriole pitcher Scott McGregor to talk to members of the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League at their annual banquet at Tri-State Fellowship. Loewen said he is proof that life can change dramatically in an instant and that coping with change needs a calming or spiritual base to draw from to keep life in perspective.

"I think times like this put things in perspective," said Loewen, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since May 2 for a fractured elbow. "Not being able to go to the mound every fifth day, it gives you time to look around you more to see what it's like when things are taken away."


For the 23-year-old Loewen, waiting is the hardest part. He is unable to throw at all while the elbow heals and is only working out to keep his conditioning up. He will be flying to Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday to meet with Dr. James Andrews to see what the next course of rehabilitation might be.

His injury, combined with the inconsistent struggles of the Orioles, makes the inactivity stressful. That's where McGregor helps.

McGregor, an ordained minister, became friends with Loewen while coaching him at Single-A Frederick and has been in the same situation during his career.

"He can't do anything right now," McGregor said. "His elbow is giving him problems and that's tough for a young pitcher to deal with. There isn't anything I can do to help. All I can do is be a friend. We were talking about it on the way up and just said 'things happen.'"

Loewen was a major piece in the Orioles' vision of a pitching staff of young guns. He was in the starting rotation with Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera and has been out while new starters Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres have worked for Baltimore.

"If I don't watch out, I'm really going to have to work to get my job back," Loewen said, in deadpan fashion.

But the combination is a positive spot in a frustrating season.

"It's been tough ... those one-run games," said Loewen, who was 2-0 with a 3.56 ERA in six starts before his injury. "It's a combination of things, but mostly is we hit well when we aren't pitching well and we pitch well when we aren't hitting well."

McGregor predicts good things with Loewen, especially if he is patient enough to get through the injury. But the former star says young pitchers like Loewen are working in a much different game than McGregor did when he was pitching in the 1970s and '80s.

"(Loewen's) command and motion has become so much better," said McGregor, who pitched on Baltimore's World Championship team in 1983. "He's got to the major leagues now and he's learning that he has to get the ball over the plate more consistently."

But in the current climate of baseball, even all that will guarantee success. Pitchers are being limited to about 100 pitches per start and not lasting long in games because of a renewed patience by batters.

"The mentality of the game is different," McGregor said. "It has gone to the 'Money Ball' theory and the way Theo (Epstein, Boston general manager) approaches the game. They all think about taking more pitches and getting the starters out of the game. In the old days, we would stay and throw 140 pitches a start, no problem."

The key for the Orioles, and every other team in baseball, is to get the starting pitching to be a bigger part of the game.

"In the old days, each pitcher on the staff would get 10 complete games a season. Nowadays, you are lucky to get five complete games a season from the starters," McGregor said. "That means the bullpen is needed to pitch in 155 games instead of the 100 back when I pitched. The Orioles did a great job constructing their bullpen this season, but they are getting tired."

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