Loewen relishes unorthodox baseball journey

Loewen relishes unorthodox baseball journey

PHOENIX -- Adam Loewen's path to the Majors hasn't been easy. That's because he has had to do it multiple times -- as a starter, as an outfielder and as a reliever.

The well-traveled former first-round pick most recently made it back to the big leagues when the D-backs recalled him on July 30. But it was not more than a year ago when Loewen, a baseball nut, considered no longer playing the sport he loves for the first and only time.

Loewen, then a reliever in the Phillies' organization, was placed on the disabled list early in the 2015 season with what he calls a "phantom" injury, then he was optioned from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to Double-A Reading.

"That's kind of when I re-evaluated whether I wanted to keep doing it or not," Loewen said. "But I was always going to keep playing."

So Loewen kept going, and he found himself back in the Majors in the Phillies' bullpen later in the season. Now the 32-year-old is in Arizona, his offseason home of seven years.

But that's the story of Loewen the reliever. There's more than that.

Loewen was selected as the No. 4 overall pick of the 2002 Draft by the Orioles out of Fraser Valley Christian High School in Surrey, British Columbia. He was expected to help rejuvenate a lackluster Baltimore starting rotation when he made it to the Majors.

Instead, Loewen went 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 35 appearances (29 starts) over three seasons, also suffering stress fractures in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08.

"The whole time I was rehabbing, I was thinking to myself, 'What would I do if I ever was told there wasn't a good chance I couldn't pitch?'" Loewen said. "And that's what ended up happening."

Loewen's answer was to convert to an outfielder. He played 2 1/2 seasons in the Minors in the Toronto organization before making it back to the Majors in 2011. That year, Loewen hit .188 (6-for-32) with a homer and four RBIs in 14 games for the Blue Jays.

But after going back to the Minors the next two seasons, Loewen had no job entering 2014. So more than five years after last stepping on the pitcher's mound, he decided to move back there, but this time as a reliever.

"Really, I just wanted to keep playing," Loewen said. "It didn't matter where."

Loewen posted a 6.98 ERA in 20 games for the Phillies last season after spending another year-and-a-half in the Minors. Last offseason, he signed with the D-backs, opening this season with Triple-A Reno.

After posting a 3.52 ERA in 34 games with Reno, Loewen was promoted to the D-backs. He pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in his first four outings before allowing five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Brewers on Saturday.

"He's a big guy, tall guy, so he has a good angle on the ball, and he's been able to get both lefties and righties out for us right now," manager Chip Hale said. "He's done a really nice job."

Just as Loewen has done in the past, he's prepared for any more challenges that arise, which he feels have turned him into a better player.

"I think it's just previous failures and dealing with that and working through them and eventually coming out better than when I went into them," Loewen said. "The more crazy situations you're put in throughout your career, the better you respond to them down the road."

Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.