Anderson hates to be caught in the act of stealing

ORIOLES SIDELIGHT

August 09, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- California Angels right-hander Phil Leftwich walked Brady Anderson in a game three weeks ago at Anaheim Stadium, and the moments that followed cried for a split screen.

Nothing about Leftwich's move gave Anderson reason to believe second base was his for the taking. Leftwich didn't give away anything with his body language. He wasn't slow to the plate. He paid attention to Anderson, throwing to first base a half-dozen times.

Why then, Brady, did you steal second base?

Anderson smiles, clears his throat, and confesses.

"There was a guy in the stands ragging me," Anderson said. "I guess I wanted to show him something.

"That was one of my hardest ones [steals] of the year," Anderson added.

Catching Anderson has been next to impossible for American League pitchers and catchers. Anderson has stolen 31 bases in 32 attempts and has been successful on his past 27 tries, including one last night against the New York Yankees.

Willie Wilson and Julio Cruz, who each stole 32 consecutive bases, hold the American League record. Vince Coleman has the major-league record with 50.

Most of Anderson's decisions to steal have been based more on game situations and flaws detected from pitchers, with the help of first base coach Davey Lopes, than on a desire to shut up a loudmouth.

At the same time, he has developed an attitude on the bases.

"Stealing a base is really kind of a violent play. You've got to be explosive. The difference between being safe and being out is 6 inches."

And an entire world apart.

"You build up a hatred of getting caught," Anderson said. "Sometimes, I think what will it be like if I get caught? There is no comparison between the feeling of standing on second base and being in the dugout after getting thrown out."

Standing on second base, all alone, Anderson is anything but lonely. In the dugout, after getting thrown out, he is surrounded by people. Surrounded and lonely.

Anderson stole 53 bases in 69 attempts in 1992 and 24 in 36 attempts last season, when sore knees slowed him.

"Last year I wasn't as fast for the first half of the season," Anderson said. "No matter how good you are at reading pitchers, you've got to be explosive and you've got to be fast."

Lopes, who once held the major-league record with 38 consecutive steals, likes the recent aggressiveness shown by Anderson and would like him to become even more active on the bases.

"He's become a lot more aggressive since he's been getting on base more," Lopes said. "You have to have demeanor, a certain cockiness. Brady had it my first year here [1992]. Last year, he was injured, and it wasn't there. It's beginning to show up again. He's bunting more, doing a lot of the things that make him more of a complete hitter. He's a good bunter, and he's just now started using it. Sometimes things mature a little later."

Orioles manager Johnny Oates is satisfied with the frequency with which Anderson runs.

"If anything, he's a little more selective than he was two years ago because we want him to be with this lineup," Oates said. "You don't want him running into an out with the guys we have hitting behind him."

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