The leadoff job is Brady Anderson's.
Forget about Curtis Goodwin, at least for now.
Anderson is showing no signs of giving up the top spot. Since going hitless in his first 10 at-bats, he has a five-game hitting streak and leads the team with 10 runs scored and six extra-base hits.
The only three-hit (or even two-hit) man in yesterday's 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, Anderson singled, stole a base, doubled twice, drove in a run and scored two.
And he has erased manager Phil Regan's thoughts about moving him down in the order and beginning his lineup with Goodwin. Regan pondered such a move during the strike.
But not now.
Goodwin is at Triple-A Rochester. Anderson is the man.
"He's hitting left-handers, he's playing well in the outfield, he's stealing bases," Regan said. "He's going to be our leadoff man."
Anderson wouldn't want it any other way. "The leadoff spot is where I should be," Anderson said. "That's where I've been successful. I'll probably play all of my career as a leadoff man."
For years, managers and coaches tried to make Anderson into a different kind of leadoff hitter. The kind that drags bunts, takes walks and always tries to slap the ball on the ground.
That's not Anderson. His style was spawned by the success of Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines, leadoff hitters who can steal bases and swing for the fences. Anderson is part of the next generation of power-hitting leadoff men that includes Devon White, Lenny Dykstra and Kenny Lofton.
Anderson has been as good as any one of them. Over the past three years, he has more extra-base hits (258) than any other leadoff man. Since his first 10 at-bats this season, Anderson has a slugging percentage of .962.
After Anderson hit below .250 in his first three seasons with the Orioles, people stopped trying to change his free-swinging approach, and Anderson blossomed.
His breakthrough year came in 1992 with 53 steals and 80 RBIs, five short of the leadoff RBI major-league record set by Harvey Kuenn. Anderson has put together two solid seasons since then and seems primed for another.
Anderson stole his 28th consecutive base yesterday, the team's first of the 1995 season. Last season Anderson stole successfully 31 out of 32 times (.969), a major-league record for more than 25 attempts. Anderson's goal is not to steal 50, it's to avoid getting caught.
"Getting thrown out base stealing is pointless," said Anderson. "Whatever you did to get on base is just totally erased. You've got to pick your spots and you've got to be smart about it."
Not even hitting against left-handers bothers him anymore.
"Since 1992, I've been playing every day and I see left-handers all the time," said Anderson, who hit a ground-rule double off left-hander Scott Karl yesterday. "That's the difference."
Anderson, 31, is smart enough to forget about the knocks against him -- that he flies out and strikes out too often for a leadoff man. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is below average and he has struck out 56 more times than he's walked over the last five years. This year he leads the team with seven strikeouts.
But Anderson is confident -- about his hitting style, about his base-stealing approach and about the leadoff position that he feels is rightfully his.
"I never imagined I was going to be taken out of the leadoff spot, to be honest with you," he said. "If a manager even mentions that he might use somebody else, it's going to be blown out of
TH Orioles left fielder Brady Anderson is on a roll after a slow start:
At-bats ... ... ... R ... H ... 2B ... 3B ... HR ... K ... Avg.
First 10 .. ... ... 0 ... 0 ... 0 ... 0 .. .. 0 ... 5 .. .. .000
Since then (24) ... 10 .. 12 .. 3 ... 2 .. .. 1 ... 2 .. .. .500