Pitcher Adam Loewen, the fourth overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by the Orioles, left in the fifth inning of Sunday's game against the Rangers after feeling some pain in his left elbow. The results of Loewen's CT scan have not been revealed yet, but he seems destined for another stint on the 15-day disabled list.
The 24-year-old Loewen has given Orioles fans plenty of reasons to worry, and he has rarely shown signs that he'll be able to pitch well at the major league level, let alone that he can stay healthy for a significant period of time.
Loewen's injuries may be the most frustrating, but several other pitchers in the Orioles organization are recovering from various injuries as well.
Two of the pitchers the Orioles received in the Miguel Tejada deal with the Astros, Troy Patton and Matt Albers, are dealing with labrum tears. Patton, who turns 23 in September, is out for the whole season and hopes to be able to pitch next spring. In four seasons in the minors, Patton is 27-28 with a 2.99 ERA, 396 strikeouts, and 127 walks. He's also left-handed and may turn out to be an upgrade over Brian Burres and Garrett Olson in the O's starting rotation.
A slight labrum tear in Albers's right shoulder was recently discovered, and he's currently on the disabled list as well. According to Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun, Albers, 25, "report[ed] to the minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla...to begin rehabbing his right shoulder. He won’t pick up a baseball for three to four weeks before doing some light throwing. He still hopes to return by late August or early September." Last year with the Astros, Albers had an ERA of 5.86 and finished 4-11, but this season with the O's, Albers found an effective role as a middle reliever and spot-starter. Up until his injury, Albers was 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA, 26 strikeouts, and 22 walks. He walked too many hitters but was usually efficient in getting the ball to Jim Johnson in the seventh of eighth innings.
Another recovering pitcher is Chris Ray, who is also rehabbing in Sarasota. Ray had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in August of 2007 and hopes to pitch in September, though it seems unlikely. If he continues to throw without any setbacks, Ray may retain his role as closer in 2009.
Reliever Danys Baez is also rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and hopes to be ready to pitch in 2009. Baez, who signed a 3-year, $19 million contract in 2006 with the Orioles, will come off the books after next season.
Jim Hoey, coming off of shoulder surgery, also hopes to be ready for 2009. He turns 26 in December.
If Patton, Albers, Baez, Ray, and Hoey are all healthy next season, the Orioles would add even more talented pitching to an organization that seems to be well-stocked with arms. Then again, almost everything the Orioles do seems to be accompanied by the word "if."