Third Time's A Charm?

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Adam Loewen is looking forward to his third season as an outfielder after elbow injuries forced him to give up his pitching career.

"This is the first year where I have some pretty high expectations of what I want to accomplish," he said during spring training.

Loewen is pleased with his swing and his defensive play. It's a matter of being able to stay consistent. He is likely to start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Loewen has found defense to be the easier part of the transition from pitcher to position player, but he has been working hard to make up for lost time at the plate. The 26-year-old made progress last season, batting .246/.351/.412 for Double-A New Hampshire with 13 home runs and 70 RBIs.

He went to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .333/.438/.667 with five homers, 19 RBIs in 14 games. He then went to the Dominican League, played first base and hit .355/.389/.645.

Loewen has spent much of spring training working on his timing with major league hitting coach Dwayne Murphy. "He saw me hit once in the offseason and he just makes it so simple," Loewen said. "Something really tangible that you can put your hands on and think about and it makes perfect sense."

Loewen became the highest Canadian ever taken in the draft when the Orioles made him the fourth overall pick in 2002. He spent six seasons in the Orioles system, but opted for a career change rather than have a second surgery for a stress fracture on his pitching elbow after the 2008 season. Baltimore placed him on waivers that October, expecting to re-sign him to a minor league deal after he cleared, but Loewen signed a two-year contract with the Blue Jays.

"He's swung the bat very well," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He's put up good at-bats, has a good idea of the strike zone. He's been impressive."


• Lefthander Jo-Jo Reyes, obtained last July in the trade that brought shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves for Alex Gonzalez, was in contention for a spot on the Opening Day roster and was one of three starters with Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch going for the two final rotation openings.

• Outfielder Eric Thames had a strong spring training following a breakout season at New Hampshire in 2010.