Brady Anderson --UP -- Dislikes questions about his...

Buster Olney's O's week in review

April 28, 1996|By BUSTER OLNEY

Brady Anderson --UP -- Dislikes questions about his hitting. Will have to get used to it if he keeps swinging like this.

Arthur Rhodes -- UP -- Davey Johnson would prefer to keep him in the bullpen, but Rhodes just may be too good as a starter to do that.

Kent Mercker -- DOWN -- That transition from the NL to AL may be a little tougher than the other way around. Mercker can just ask Leo Gomez (.313 for Cubs).

Manny Alexander -- EVEN -- A life in limbo. Shows up, takes batting practice, fields fungoes, watches and waits.

Keith Shepherd -- UP -- One-time boxer, nicknamed "The Apache," is promoted to the majors. He and Alan Mills may become the most feared tag team in the AL should a fight break out.

Starting pitching -- DOWN -- If every other team wasn't having pitching problems, the plight of the Orioles' rotation would be really noticed.

Luis Polonia -- UP -- It's only a matter of time before he's here.

Stat of the week

Brady Anderson homered to lead off four straight games Apri18-21, eclipsing the major-league record of two set by 31 other players. The Orioles lost all four games.

The week ahead

Tuesday-Thursday, vs. New York: The Orioles get the matchups they wanted against New York, with left-handers Arthur Rhodes and David Wells starting, but they likely will face Andy Pettitte, one of the best young pitchers in the AL. The Yankees are off to a respectable start, despite the fact that center fielder Bernie Williams and first baseman Tino Martinez haven't been hitting. Rookie of the Year candidate Derek Jeter is playing shortstop and batting around .300.

Friday-Sunday, vs. Milwaukee: If everything falls into place, the Orioles will face former teammate Ben McDonald in one of the three games, although his recent shoulder inflammation could force the Brewers to alter their rotation. Milwaukee is playing above expectations, getting tremendous production out of Kevin Seitzer and left fielder Greg Vaughn, who seems recovered from shoulder trouble. Closer Mike Fetters is off to a slow start.

The good

There was a running debate during the off-season over who should bat first and who should hit second, but thus far, there are no complaints about No.1 Brady Anderson or No.2 Roberto Alomar, who carried hitting streaks of 12 and 10 games, respectively, into the weekend.

The bad

Barring any major changes - and why would they bother? - the Kansas City Royals should be unrivaled in their pursuit of baseball's worst record in 1996. You hate to think it, but for the Orioles to lose a single game to the Royals would be a disappointment.

The ugly

Kent Mercker's five-inning outing against the Royals on Wednesday night was, to use Davey Johnson's phrase, ""a miracle." It seemed like his pitches would wind up wherever catcher Chris Hoiles wasn't.

A move that paid off...

The insertion of Arthur Rhodes into the rotation paid off in a big way, as the left-hander pitched five shutout innings against the Royals on Thursday night and saved a tired bullpen from unnecessary wear.

... and one that didn't

Davey Johnson left Mike Mussina in the game in the seventh inning Tuesday night to face Indians slugger Albert Belle, rather than bring in Roger McDowell (Belle is 1-for-6 lifetime against McDowell, a sinkerball pitcher), and Mussina gave up a three-run homer.

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