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Loewen takes swing at being a hitter

Adam Loewen took the next step in his daunting transition from pitcher to hitter yesterday, spending an hour in the Camden Yards inside cage with hitting coach Terry Crowley.

"It's weird, but I think the challenging part is going to be when I face live pitching and that's going to be a strain for me," said Loewen, who hasn't hit regularly since playing junior college ball in 2002. "But I'm not expecting anything significant. From the start, I know I'm not going to be that great. Crow just told me to work on the same swing and eventually, I'll develop my own swing and my own style."

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Loewen's time with Crowley was split between hitting and listening.

"It was basically an instructional period about how to hit pitches on different parts of home plate," Crowley said. "He hasn't hit on a steady basis in a long time. He actually got a little tired today when we were working. But he looked pretty good and I think he's got a shot."

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Loewen, who learned this season his left elbow wasn't structurally sound enough to keep pitching, will spend the week with the team and Crowley. He'll then play in the instructional league and a fall-winter league, playing outfield and first base.

"I'm just going to be a normal minor leaguer now, so I'm sure it'll be tough at first not playing in the big leagues," said Loewen, 24, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2005. "But I've accepted that fact already and I've moved on. I'm not going to have any regrets."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that by the end of the week Loewen might hit on the field. But Trembley is not planning to watch.

"It's going to be a long process with him making some adjustments," Trembley said. "Sure, we're interested in how he does ... but I don't expect him to go out there and look like Lou Gehrig."

Huff's mind clear

Aubrey Huff was in the cleanup spot after missing two games because of the birth of his first child, Jayce Aubrey. Huff's wife, Baubi, first experienced early contractions in mid-August when the Orioles were in Cleveland, so the family has been anxious for the past few weeks.

"That call in Cleveland really kind of freaked me out," Huff said. "I was almost telling Dave I needed to get out of here."

But everything worked out. Jayce arrived the day after the team got back from a six-game trip.

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Albers visits Yards

Matt Albers, who has been on the disabled list with a slight ligament tear in his right shoulder since June 25, threw a side session at Camden Yards.

He pitched twice at Single-A Aberdeen, throwing all his pitches without pain. He said he could pitch for the Orioles this month but it would be in "very short stints because I haven't built up my arm strength."

The Orioles likely will take a conservative approach and shut down the 25-year-old, who could battle for a starting spot next spring.

"The whole point of this was to see if I can avoid surgery and I think hopefully we'll kind of jump that hurdle so I won't have to," he said. "Whether I actually have pitched in a big league game [again] this year isn't really too much of my concern anymore."

September plans

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Trembley doesn't expect any call-ups from Double-A Bowie but said he would be giving several current players the chance to show what they can do during the next three weeks. That includes Lou Montanez, who must prove he can play the outfield regularly, and starters Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz and Chris Waters, who need to show whether they are better suited to the bullpen or the rotation.

He also said newcomers Brian Bass and Alfredo Simon will pitch. Simon needs to improve his delivery, which changes depending on the pitch he throws.

"I think at the major leagues the hitters are much too sophisticated" to let a pitcher do that, Trembley said. "I think you might as well have a flashing sign on it that says, 'Here it comes.'"

Around the horn

Catcher Ramon Hernandez took practice at first base and could play there this year, Trembley said. ... Closer George Sherrill (shoulder inflammation) will throw a simulated game tomorrow afternoon. If he feels OK, he'll be activated "probably a few days after that," Trembley said. . ... The Orioles placed reliever Jim Johnson (right shoulder impingement) on the 15-day DL retroactive to Sept. 1. ... Frederick and Bowie catcher Matt Wieters was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year.

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Orioles who have started at least 20 games at shortstop this season. Juan Castro's 36 starts lead the team.


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