Saturday, March 10, 2012

Adam Loewen bidding for the Mets 5th outfielder spot


Adam Loewen left the black bat tucked in his locker when he exited the clubhouse Saturday morning. It has his name on it, but not his initials. The code on the bat – JC-22M – belongs to another player.

“I think it’s Jose Cruz Jr.’s,” Loewen said. “He doesn’t even play anymore.”

Finding this 34-inch piece of lumber was one of the most difficult elements of his conversion from pitcher to hitter. Loewen made 29 starts during his three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, going 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA.

But now he’s in Mets camp, bidding for the team’s fifth outfielder spot. The Mets are taking a close look. Loewen has played in five of the team’s first seven games and the early returns look good. He is hitting .333 after striking out in his only plate appearance during Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium.

“Just to be here is a blessing and a privilege, so I don’t put a lot of pressure on any one at-bat,” Loewen said. “There’s lots of time to get things done and show what kind of player I am.”

Pitching coach Dan Warthen was asked why so few pitchers try following Loewen’s path, attempting the leap from mound to plate.



Warthen paused, let out a long laugh, then said, “Most of them became pitchers ‘cause they couldn’t hit.

“I can’t even imagine how tough that would be.”

But there is someone who can imagine. Rick Ankiel, in camp with Washington and once one of the game’s top mound prospects, famously melted down as a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals before resurfacing as a hitter with some pop in his bat.

“He has a good tool set, I’ve seen him,” Ankiel said. “It’s like anyone else. You go out there and work on your daily routine, your daily stuff, what you need to focus on. Stay focused and have fun with it.”

Loewen never has met Ankiel, but has tracked his career path. Loewen said he draws inspiration from Ankiel’s story.
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