Orioles hitting coach Tom McCraw believes Brady Anderso needs to spend virtually an entire offseason restructuring his swing. Anderson, a career .212 hitter, still doesn't see the point.
Will he ever? The question could decide whether Andersoremains a spare outfielder or becomes an everyday player. McCraw refuses to give up on him, but last night he could not have been more blunt assessing his career.
"It's like someone that's been paralyzed," McCraw was sayingeven after Anderson reached base three times in the Orioles' 4-3 loss to Detroit. "You just don't come back and walk. How much therapy do you do?"
Make no mistake: McCraw wants it known that Anderson workhard and "is not a bad kid." It's just that he's convinced Anderson won't achieve lasting success until he overhauls his entire hitting approach.
McCraw says that process would require Anderson to work eight to 10 hours a day for a period of 30-45 days. "It's like brainwashing someone," he says. "You have to take out the thought process. It can't be done working three to four hours a day."
Anderson disagrees. "What I believe is that I've got to go up, baggressive and swing," he says. "I've just got to go up there and hack -- not try to hit to left all the time and let the ball get back on me so far by the time I swing."
The evidence, of course, is in McCraw's favor. Despite recenprogress, Anderson is still batting only .188. His roster spot is again in jeopardy, with outfielder Dwight Evans expected to come off the disabled list after the All-Star break.
The fact is, Anderson has shown little improvement since arrivinfrom Boston in the Mike Boddicker trade nearly three years ago. The problem is, he still can argue that things are not as bad as they seem.
His defense remains sound, and he has a healthy .364 on-baspercentage since coming off the DL June 13. Leadoff man Mike Devereaux is batting nearly 80 points higher, but as recently as two days ago Anderson was getting on at a higher rate.
Granted, he has only 26 hits -- but mix in his club-high three sacrifice flies, and they translate to 15 RBIs. Cal Ripken, Randy Milligan and Devereaux are the only Orioles who have scored more runs. Each has approximately twice as many at-bats.
Here's the kicker: The Orioles are 51-47 (.520) with Anderson ithe starting lineup the past two seasons, 56-82 (.406) without him.
For all that, he's hardly considered a success. Anderson followeEllis Burks through Boston's minor-league system and out-hit him at every level. But as Orioles manager John Oates says, "The discrepancy between his minor-league and major-league stats is unbelievable."
What happened? Walt Hriniak, for starters. Anderson incorporated the hitting coach's unorthodox approach in Boston. McCraw believes it deprives him of a proper foundation, forcing him to lunge and swing under the ball. Anderson can't take advantage of his speed hitting weak fly balls.
He has altered his technique since joining the Orioles, but McCraw says he's only scratching the surface. "It's not that he doesn't accept it -- the kid tries," McCraw says. But Anderson is making daily adjustments. McCraw is talking long-term.
Oates refuses to join the debate, saying only that Anderson haplayed well since coming off the DL. "When he got hurt [hamstring] it was nip-and-tuck as to whether he was going to stay on the big-league club," Oates says. "I think he knew it when he came back."
Anderson admits, "It's definitely no fun hitting what I hit." For thareason, he does not brush off advice. In fact, his latest tutor is third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr., who grew agitated just watching him swing a fungo bat one day.
According to Anderson, Ripken said something to the effect of"If you can't hit a fungo, you can't hit it in the big leagues." Since then Anderson has been performing various drills, "all designed to get me on top of the ball."
That obviously involves his swing, but McCraw insists Anderson can't correct his problems over the course of a season, or even in spring training. He wants the matter addressed in the offseason, but Anderson says he works hard, and isn't that enough?
For a successful hitter, yes.
For a career .212 hitter, well, here's McCraw:
"Baseball at the major-league level is a game of productionGuys produce, they're promoted. Guys that don't, they're gone."