Wielding bat, Loewen makes emotional return

Wielding bat, Loewen makes emotional return

Wielding bat, Loewen makes emotional return
TORONTO -- Adam Loewen's remarkable journey through the Minor Leagues came to an end on Wednesday afternoon, when he was called up by the Blue Jays.

The move is another monumental step for the former pitcher whose career appeared to be over after he suffered a stress fracture in his left elbow in 2008. Loewen gave up pitching and attempted to make his way back to the Majors as a hitter.

More than three years later he achieved that goal. He now finds himself on Toronto's active roster in a role that he always dreamed about as a kid growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"I always loved to hit more than I liked to pitch," Loewen said. "I think that it wasn't that I guaranteed myself to get back here, just that I knew I was going to enjoy doing it and a lot of people believed in me.

"I had a lot of help along the way to make this possible, and the best part about it is that it's not over yet, it's not a success yet. Just getting here ... was never my intention. I wanted to go as far as I could."

Loewen was a highly touted left-hander out of Chipola Junior College in Florida when Baltimore selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. At the time, he was the highest Canadian ever taken in the Draft, and the possibilities appeared endless.

The 6-foot-6, 222-pounder, pitched in parts of three seasons for the Orioles but had his career marred by injuries. In 2007, it was a stress fracture in his left elbow which required surgery. The following year, the same injury resurfaced, and doctors said he would be required to miss at least 18 months.

Loewen instead decided to try his luck as a hitter. He signed a Minor League free-agent contract with the Blue Jays later that year and began to work his way back to the big leagues.

Fast forward to 2011 and his goal is at least partially complete. Loewen was among six Toronto players to receive callups on Wednesday, and he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup at right field to give Jose Bautista a day off from the field.

Loewen flied out in his first at-bat, struck out in his second but eventually reached base in the sixth when he was hit by a pitch. Two innings later, he got his first Major League hit with a single to right field that helped spark a five-run rally in an 11-10 victory over the Red Sox.

"It was just a thrill," Loewen said. "I came into the game not really knowing what to expect. I was a lot less nervous than I thought I would be. I felt really comfortable out there, and once I got into the flow of the game, I just relaxed and played the way I'm capable of playing."

All in all, the game was a moment that was even more special than when he made his Major League debut for the Orioles on May 23, 2006.

"The first time there was a lot more excitement, but this is just a dream come true to be playing for the Blue Jays as a hitter," said Loewen, who hit .306 with 17 homers and 85 RBIs for Triple-A Las Vegas this year. "Now I'm actually doing what I want to do. It was very satisfactory, and I feel very blessed to still be playing at all."