Loewen missed almost all of last season, making just six starts, with a stress fracture in his throwing elbow. He endured surgery and rehab last season to fix the problem, but began the year with discomfort in the joint. He was put on the disabled list April 25 after he threw just 2 2/3 innings in a start against Seattle, giving up five runs on four hits and three walks.
Trembley said Sunday that he refused to activate Loewen until he was fully assured that the elbow soreness would no longer be a problem for the pitcher. He reiterated those sentiments Monday, stating that he felt confident in Loewen's ability to gauge his health.
"The discussion I had with him yesterday on the phone is: 'When you're pitching good everything is all rosy and peaches and cream,'" Trembley said. "'When all of the sudden things don't go your way, I don't want to hear it's because your elbow's bothering you.'
"That's what I told him straight-up: 'If I hear, because you go out there and you pitch poorly, or you give it up or didn't pitch right, and all of a sudden I hear it's because your arm's bad -- we're going to have a problem. So what I need to know from you right now is, you're 100 percent. When you pitch good, you're 100 percent the day after, and when things don't go your way, you're going to be 100 percent.' And he said: 'Dave, I've felt 100 percent for a while.'"
Loewen, who has traditionally been a starting pitcher for the Orioles, returns to the team strictly as a reliever. That designation is one Trembley said would not change for the remainder of the season. In his nine combined rehab appearances at Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, Loewen has been working on cutting down his warmup time and getting into a reliever's routine, as opposed to the longer warmup period starter's recieve.
"I've been told, as far as I know, I'm just coming out of the bullpen and that's how I'm going to approach it," Loewen said. "I'm not looking too far ahead. I think, the way things go, I don't have a problem staying in the bullpen the rest of the year. So if that happens, I'm fine with that."
Loewen seemed confident that the elbow problems have subsided, and turned his focus towards contributing in the Orioles' bullpen any way he can.
"It's like I have no problems anymore and no worries about it, which is great," Loewen said. "I don't think, 'How can I make my arm not hurt?' when I'm on the mound. I don't even think of it at all. I concentrate on the pitch, and my control has been a lot better. I'm just going to continue to do that. Throwing every day really helps. If you have a bad day Monday, you're up the next day. So it's a lot easier to handle the mental approach."