Is Anderson on-deck for home run contest? Johnson jokes of fears of All-Star slug-off

ORIOLES Notebook

July 02, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- The topic of discussion in Davey Johnson's office shifted naturally from Brady Anderson's incredibly long homer against the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday -- the 100th of Anderson's career and the 28th of his season -- to whether the Orioles center fielder might be included in the home run-hitting contest at the All-Star Game next week.

Johnson's eyebrows arched and his voice expressed mock horror at the thought. "Jeez, I hope they don't put him in it," Johnson said.

He then mimicked Anderson's long, high finish to his swung. Johnson has said at times he thinks Anderson's swing is sometimes too long, in spite of his astounding home run production that leads the major leagues.

"He'll come back worse than ever," Johnson joked. "I think we have it under control a little bit."

Anderson chuckled when asked about the possibility of taking his best rips alongside sluggers like Albert Belle, Mark McGwire and Frank Thomas. "Line me up against those guys," he said, laughing. "That's something else. I hope they let me in. They might just sit me down and make me watch."

It was Anderson who put on the show yesterday, although he had to endure some humiliation before the celebration. In the fourth inning, Anderson was on second and Cal Ripken on first with two outs, and Anderson started to break for third on a pitch to Rafael Palmeiro. But Anderson, realizing he had gotten a poor jump, stopped. Toronto catcher Sandy Martinez came up firing, and Anderson was tagged out at second.

Two innings later, Anderson batted with Chris Hoiles on first and blasted a shot into the fourth deck of SkyDome, barely missing the facing of the fifth deck in right field. The fifth deck was broached in the 1989 playoffs on a memorable left-field blast by Jose Canseco.

"I got on Brady for getting picked off with the cleanup hitter

[Palmeiro] up there," said Johnson. "That [home run] almost makes up for starting to steal and then stopping and getting picked off."

Anderson finished fourth among AL outfielders in the All-Star balloting, and should know for sure today whether Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove picked him as one of the reserves. Anderson also might have a shot at starting in place of Ken Griffey, out with a broken wrist.

Starting, Anderson said, "is important to me, but it's not something I've given a ton of thought. . . . I want to make the team first. What I remember about the first time in 1992 is that it was enjoyable to have the kind of season that would get you on the team. As time went on, once you got in the game, I realized the game was more special than I thought."

Gillick keeps eyes open

General manager Pat Gillick indicated yesterday that he is not close to making a deal. However, when he was asked if he thought the Orioles could win with their current roster, Gillick replied, "I think we're a little short . . . in the outfield and catcher."

Gillick has been talking to a number of teams, but he reiterated yesterday that he doesn't feel as if he has a lot to offer.

"To be frank about it," said Gillick, "we really don't have a lot of bullets. Most of the players we have, we need.

"We thought [Jeffrey] Hammonds would be able to play, and [Tony] Tarasco would be able to play. But it didn't work out. . . . At present, we've got a couple of dead spots in the lineup, where we're not getting a whole lot."

Gillick wouldn't specify, but it's fairly apparent he was talking about catcher, left field (although Mike Devereaux is playing better) and the designated hitter spot when Bobby Bonilla is in right.

The Orioles have had a scout trailing the Philadelphia Phillies, presumably to watch catcher Benito Santiago, who has been the subject of trade talks between the clubs. The two teams have discussed possible compensation, but are not close to making a deal.

Alomar a bit star-struck

Roberto Alomar gave a look of surprise when writers asked him about making the All-Star team, as if he didn't know what everybody has known for a month or two: He's going to start for the American League.

"Oh, yeah?" he said, before yelling across to Ripken. "Congratulations! Can I drive with you to Philadelphia?"

Kent Mercker played along. "Good thing you hit the home run in New York," he told Alomar.

Bonilla: "If you didn't, I didn't think you had a chance."

Ripken and Alomar will be the first double-play combination from the same team to start since Tommy Herr and Ozzie Smith in 1985, and the first AL teammates to start at short and second since Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph in 1981.

Around the horn

Johnson and AL president Gene Budig talked in Johnson's office, Budig soliciting from Johnson any suggestions. Johnson said he complimented the attitude of the umpires, but mentioned he finds the AL strike zone to be a little on the small side. . . . Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, comparing Rocky Coppinger's size and shape to that of former Toronto lefty David Wells: "He looks like he's been hanging around with Boomer [Wells]. . . . Actually, I thought Boomer looked like he was in pretty good shape."

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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