Anderson rib is break O's didn't need Bruise turns out to be fracture, likely to keep him out for first week

He's against going on DL

Outfield injuries aid Hammonds' bid

March 28, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson has a broken rib and appears unlikely to be in the lineup when the club opens the regular season on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals at Camden Yards.

Anderson apparently suffered the injury diving back to first base in Sunday's exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The injury was thought to be no more than a bruise -- and X-rays taken earlier this week supported that diagnosis -- but Anderson underwent a more intensive examination yesterday after the inflammation failed to subside.

A bone scan revealed a fracture in the fifth rib on Anderson's left side, an injury that only will get better with rest. He could be placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Monday, which would keep him out of the regular-season lineup for six games, but club officials have not yet decided on their course of action.

Meanwhile, the agent for Anderson, Jeff Borris, submitted a counterproposal to the Orioles' offer of $15-plus million over three years and reiterated that the outfielder is amenable to continuing contract talks after Opening Day.

General manager Pat Gillick said yesterday that the club does not have to make a roster decision until Monday, so there is time to see if Anderson's condition improves enough to allow him to remain active.

"I'm going to wait to see on Monday," Gillick said.

Chances are, Anderson will try to resist a stay on the disabled list. He refused last year to have his appendix removed when his illness was diagnosed as appendicitis, and that risky decision helped him become the first player in Orioles history to hit 50 home runs in a season.

"Obviously, it will be up to me," Anderson said. "If I can't swing the bat or do anything, then I'll be forced to go on the DL for a few games, but in my mind I'm not going to do that."

The injury, however, could allow manager Davey Johnson some added roster flexibility as he cuts down to the 25-man limit. If Anderson starts the season on the DL, that would allow the Orioles to go with an enlarged pitching staff without the need to move one of their outfielders off the roster.

There already is the likelihood that veteran Pete Incaviglia will open the season on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and there has been speculation that newcomer Jerome Walton also might go on the DL because of a nagging abdominal strain.

Walton, however, has been playing and probably will open on the active roster if Anderson does not.

The injury all but guarantees that Jeffrey Hammonds will make the club, since he is the healthiest outfielder who is comfortable in center field. Tony Tarasco can play there, but he is nursing a strained thigh muscle, and Walton has been playing some center, but his durability remains in question.

Of course, veteran Eric Davis was one of the top center fielders in the game before injuries eroded his superstar status, but Johnson figures to leave him in right field, where he has been playing almost exclusively during the exhibition season.

Anderson said he was shocked to learn that he had fractured the rib, but knew something was wrong when three days of inactivity did nothing to lessen the discomfort.

"I didn't land that hard," he said. "That's the strange thing about it. The force of the impact was nothing, but I went to Vero Beach and I ran and I couldn't breathe. I guess I landed harder than I thought.

"This is frustrating because I felt great and I was having a good spring. I felt ready for the start of the season."

If Anderson does not start on Tuesday, Tarasco and Hammonds probably both will be in the lineup. Tarasco could appear as the designated hitter or move into left field if Johnson decides to use B. J. Surhoff in the DH slot.

Baseball '97

Baseball '97, a special section in Sunday's paper, will look at how the Orioles have shuffled their roster to make a run at the World Series. There will be articles on interleague play, the Top 10 Stories of the Year and baseball's season-long tribute to Jackie Robinson. The section will include team-by-team previews and schedules, in addition to Orioles player profiles.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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