Jays sign Loewen, claim Bullington off waivers

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The Toronto Blue Jays acquired two of the top four picks in the 2002 draft on Friday, signing converted pitcher Adam Loewen to a minor league contract and claiming right-hander Bryan Bullington off waivers.

Bullington was selected by Pittsburgh with the top overall selection and Loewen was taken fourth by the Baltimore Orioles. Neither player has panned out so far professionally.

Baltimore released Loewen on Monday, but had hoped to re-sign him to a minor league deal. Loewen, a native of Surrey, British Columbia, acknowledged leaving the Orioles was "extremely difficult," but said the chance to join Toronto was too good to pass up.

"I grew up watching the Blue Jays and was a huge fan all my life," he said. "This is a great opportunity. I'm really excited to get going."

Loewen's pitching career ended in July because of recurring stress fractures in his left elbow. Loewen worked with Baltimore batting coach Terry Crowley in September before joining the Orioles' instructional league team. He went 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA in three years as a pitcher.

Loewen, who will attempt to reach the majors as a first baseman/outfielder, said he has no regrets about giving up pitching.

"If you gave me a brand new left arm and I was able to do what I used to, I don't think I'd take it," he said.

Toronto also claimed Bullington from Cleveland. Bullington is 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA in parts of three major league seasons, two with Pittsburgh and one with Cleveland. The 28-year-old missed the 2006 season following right shoulder surgery.

To make room on the roster, Toronto designated outfielder Kevin Mench for assignment.