Club releases Loewen, but likely not for long

The Baltimore Sun

To make room on their 40-man roster for a quintet of injured pitchers, the Orioles released 2002 first-round draft pick Adam Loewen yesterday and outrighted five players to Triple-A.

Loewen's release essentially terminates the left-hander's major league contract but almost certainly does not mean the end of his relationship with the organization, club president Andy MacPhail said.

"This was something that was talked about ... and was expected by both the player and his representative," MacPhail said.

MacPhail said the club expects to agree to a minor league deal with Loewen at some point after he clears waivers tomorrow afternoon.

Loewen, 24, reinjured the stress fracture in his left elbow this season, causing him to give up pitching. The fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft is attempting a comeback as a hitter. He worked with Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley in September and then joined the club's instructional league team in Sarasota, Fla.

Because he was given his release, Loewen conceivably could be claimed by another club, but he wouldn't have any options remaining and, as determined by the collective bargaining agreement, would make roughly $700,000 on another organization's 40-man roster. That scenario is highly unlikely. He also could talk to other teams about a minor league deal, but MacPhail doesn't expect that to happen.

"There is no indication to the contrary," MacPhail said. "We are giving him an opportunity, and it would not be in his best interest to separate himself [from the Orioles]. He needs to play, and that's the opportunity we will afford him."

Once the sides agree to the number of renewal years on a minor league deal, Loewen would represent the Orioles in the Hawaiian Winter League, MacPhail said. He would be exposed to the Rule 5 draft each year he is not on the club's 40-man roster.

Loewen was one of six Orioles pitchers on the 60-day disabled list. The other five - Troy Patton, Matt Albers, Danys Baez, Chris Ray and Jim Hoey - will be moved back to the 40-man roster shortly.

To make room for them, the club outrighted infielder Brandon Fahey, catcher Omir Santos, outfielder Jeff Fiorentino and pitchers Randor Bierd and Rocky Cherry to Triple-A Norfolk.

Fahey, who batted .226 in 58 games with the Orioles, and Santos, who appeared in 11 games, could choose to become minor league free agents.

The Orioles' 40-man roster will continue to be retooled this offseason.

"There will be other moves," MacPhail said.

In other Orioles-related news, top prospects Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz will play in Friday's Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.

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