Adam Loewen has pretty much done everything that he could to find his way back to the majors. The pitcher, turned outfielder, turned pitcher signed a minor league deal with the Phillies prior to the 2014 season when he decided he wanted to return to pitching. The only reason he gave up on pitching was because of an elbow injury that left his pitching career in doubt. He opened the 2008 season on Baltimore's DL with a sore elbow and when he was finally activated in late June, the elbow still wasn't right. He was back on the DL and had constant issues with the elbow that made him decide to convert to the outfield.
"It was a wake-up call, it really was. If you looked at the statistics, I didn't think that I deserved to go to Double-A, but it sure changed the way I thought about pitching and I'm really glad it happened, looking back on it. It was the wake-up call that I needed."
After hitting .306 through 134 games at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2011, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to bring him to the majors in September. Loewen played in 14 games with the Blue Jays and hit just .188 with the Jays. From there, he was back in the minors and even wound up back at Double-A for most of the 2013 season. Over the winter, he decided to see how his elbow would feel if he were to start throwing again. Before long, he was gaining more and more velocity and had no pain in the elbow, so he decided to see if he could find work as a pitcher and found an interested party in the Phillies.
Loewen made two starts at Clearwater last season before joining Double-A Reading, where he made 17 starts and posted a 3.31 ERA. The Phillies saw enough to re-sign him to another minor league deal, but this time, the plan was to use him out of the bullpen. Loewen opened the year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and had some success, posting a 3.63 ERA through 11 games. He just didn't seem to have anything special going for him though and found himself demoted back to Reading. Loewen would spend almost a month at Reading before proving to the Phillies that he deserved a shot at returning to Lehigh Valley.
"It was a wake-up call, it really was," admitted Loewen when he returned to Lehigh Valley. "If you looked at the statistics, I didn't think that I deserved to go to Double-A, but it sure changed the way I thought about pitching and I'm really glad it happened, looking back on it. It was the wake-up call that I needed."
Loewen worked with pitching coordinator Rafael Chavez during his time at Reading and got himself straightened out both mentally and mechanically. When he returned to Lehigh Valley, he was somewhat of a different pitcher. Eventually, he had become so dominant out of the bullpen - throwing 15 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 21 over that stretch - that he was the IronPigs closer, converting 10 of 11 save opportunities.
"When I went down there, I had the mentality that I had to throw strikes and in the beginning, it wasn't too much mechanical, it was just the mindset of either throw strikes or I'm not going to have a future in baseball. Then, after I got comfortable, I made a few mechanical adjustments, working with Chavez and I haven't looked back since," he explained.
Now, for the first time since 2008, Loewen will be in the majors as a pitcher, working out of the Phillies bullpen. There was a need for another lefty for the last week, since Jake Diekman was dealt to Texas as part of the Cole Hamels deal. Loewen wasn't going to show anything more at Triple-A than what he had already shown and with the Phillies in full audition mode, giving Loewen a look seems like a decent idea. Opponents were hitting just .185 against him at Triple-A this season and he had a 2.15 ERA with Lehigh Valley. While he had walked 20 batters in his first 17 1/3 innings with Lehigh Valley, he has walked just 12 in his last 28 2/3 innings as an IronPig and he has struck out 47 batters over that same amount of time. Loewen is 31, but he appears completely healthy and doesn't have the mileage on his arm that most 31-year olds have thanks to his foray into being a position player.
Finally, Adam Loewen is getting his audition and it will be interesting to see just how far he can run with the opportunity that he's getting.