Loewen has stress fracture in elbow
Left-hander to be sidelined two months, possibly longer
BALTIMORE -- Adam Loewen's breakout season was interrupted by a serious injury Friday, when the Orioles announced that the southpaw has a stress fracture in his left elbow. Team officials noted that surgery is a "potential option," but Loewen will be out at least eight weeks even if he doesn't choose to undergo a corrective procedure.
"This is definitely a step back for me," Loewen said. "It's frustrating to hear that when I worked so hard in the offseason. I thought I made huge strides, but it's not the end of the world. I'm 23, and I think the future's going to be bright."
Loewen is the third Baltimore starter to go to the disabled list this season, joining Jaret Wright and Kris Benson. Loewen, who has a 2-0 record and a 3.56 ERA, left his last start after five strong innings and underwent a battery of tests before the ailment was diagnosed. Now, he begins the long road to recovery.
"The good news is we caught it early in the process," said Jim Duquette, Baltimore's vice president of baseball operations. "He had an X-ray last week, [but] it didn't show up in the X-ray. It only showed up on the bone scan that we had done this morning. ... It's one of those things that it's so early in the process that we don't know the entire recovery period. We're looking at somewhere toward the end of the season [for his return]."
Loewen described the injury as a "wear and tear" type ailment, and said he'd seek a second opinion outside the organization. For now, the Orioles are saying that Loewen will likely rest his arm for eight weeks and then begin a throwing program. If he opts to have corrective surgery, the rehab process could be altered.
Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with the Orioles, will consult with specialists like Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Lewis Yocum to decide on the most effective course of treatment.
"My arm felt great in Spring Training, but over the last couple weeks, it's been a little worse and a little worse," Loewen said. "It wasn't a huge pain for me. Looking at it that way, the recovery time won't be a huge problem. I think it will heal up fine. If you look at it like that, it's not really one of those injuries where you can rehab and rehab, push it. It's one where you have to let it rest. Once it's all healed up, I can start getting my arm back in shape."
Duquette wasn't really able to name any similar injuries, but he said he believed that former reliever Turk Wendell may have had something like it. He also noted that while Loewen said he could pitch through the injury, the ailment could be made much worse by trying to do so. That's why the Orioles decided to act quickly and decisively.
"We just really went off the results we had today," said Mike Flanagan, the team's executive vice president of baseball operations. "We feel positive about whatever avenue it is -- they're good avenues to choose from. From the way it's been explained to us, [the options] are good ones. I wouldn't say this is -- by any stretch of the imagination -- something that could linger and turn into something worse. It's fairly straight-forward."
"It's pretty simple. It's pretty clear on the bone scan where the break is," added Duquette. "There's only a couple things that can be done. Like Adam said, he's 23 years old. We're looking at the positives. We caught it very early and somewhere at the end of the season, we're going to have him back."
Loewen said flat-out that he won't rush back to pitch and that he'll wait for further word from the doctors before he progresses. Long reliever Brian Burres will likely take his Sunday spot in the rotation, but Baltimore may look for another long-term option. Wright's spot in the rotation, which comes up Tuesday, is also temporarily vacant.
Baltimore could use long reliever Jeremy Guthrie to fill that spot, but the team will discuss those plans over the next few days. For now, all the Orioles know is they have two rotation slots to fill -- and that top prospect Hayden Penn isn't available. Penn underwent surgery to correct a bone spur earlier in the week and will be out until August.
"Certainly today, we felt something was going on there," Flanagan said. "I'm not sure we had a sense of what that would be. This is a little bit out of left field, with the stress fracture. It's disappointing, and I think Adam was as disappointed for us as maybe we are. We're focusing, at this moment, on his loss."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.