Johnson concerned about 'full' Anderson recovery 'Special' center fielder will rush back, manager fears

Orioles notebook

March 29, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- If you ask Davey Johnson, he's 110 percent certain Brady Anderson should go on the disabled list after a bone scan revealed a cracked rib on his left side. But the Orioles manager has learned never to assume too much about his center fielder when it comes to his health.

Johnson remembers how Anderson ignored the diagnosis that he had appendicitis last season, was out four days and resumed playing. "I'm sure he has his medical treatment all mapped out," Johnson said before yesterday's 12-3 victory over the Montreal Expos.

"I'm more concerned with the long haul. From what I gather, the crack could widen if he didn't let it rest. As active as he is, I wouldn't want to chance it. If, within 10 days or two weeks, he could have a complete recovery, or something that could nag him all year, I'd rather have the complete recovery.

"But you're talking about a special person here."

Right is right for Davis

The options to replace Anderson in center field don't include Eric Davis, who won three Gold Gloves there while with Cincinnati.

"I'm not going to be moving everybody around," Johnson said of his right fielder. "I don't believe in weakening more than one position."

With right-hander Kevin Appier starting for the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day, left-handed-hitting Tony Tarasco could play center field, as he's done many times this spring. Right-handed-hitting Jeffrey Hammonds and Jerome Walton are other possibilities to join Davis and B. J. Surhoff in the outfield.

Walton, who started in center field yesterday before trading places with Hammonds in right, still is recovering from a strained abdominal muscle and slight hamstring injury. He reached on a walk and single, but also had trouble getting back on a fly ball by the Expos' Mark Grudzielanek that landed on the warning track in straightaway center.

Johnson will use one of the spare outfielders as the designated hitter, with Pete Incaviglia likely to go on the disabled list because of a strained hamstring. Surhoff isn't being considered.

"I don't want to [upset] one of my favorite players," Johnson said.

He also doesn't want to tie up what probably will be his only spare infielder. Surhoff has played third, second and first base this spring. Jeff Reboulet, batting .327 (18-for-55), will start at second while Roberto Alomar serves his five-game suspension.

Alomar to play some today

Alomar made the trip to West Palm Beach yesterday, but didn't get any farther than the on-deck circle in the sixth inning. He'll either play a couple innings in the field today against the Expos at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, or be the designated hitter.

He made his first appearance of the spring Thursday against the Expos in West Palm Beach, going 0-for-2 before leaving the game in the third inning. He was greeted with some boos each time he came up, more backlash from the spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck last year.

"You don't boo a great player. Now, people on the road have a reason to boo him. But that won't last," Johnson said.

"He's going to have a great year. He'll be loved in Baltimore."

Insurance man Gruber

Johnson repeated that infielder Kelly Gruber, who had an RBI single yesterday, will accompany the team north, but he can't say for certain what will happen then.

"The way things are going, if someone slips on a banana peel, he's very much in [the picture]," Johnson said. "I'll talk to him [today] and give him some 'what ifs.' I want him. I want to keep him. I think it's good insurance."

Tarasco sick but ready

Tarasco still receives treatment for the strained quadriceps muscle in his right leg, but a more nagging problem has been a lingering cold that left him with a fever and cough yesterday.

Otherwise, it's been a good spring for Tarasco, who has two home runs, 15 RBIs and four stolen bases and is batting .273. "I'm hitting the ball hard, playing good defense, my arm feels good," he said. "I'm ready to start the season."

He could be the leadoff hitter on Opening Day if Anderson isn't available. Walton is another possibility. "I wrote out a couple lineups," Johnson said.

Opening Day plans

Chris Merritt of the Baltimore Opera Company will sing the lTC national anthem at Opening Day Tuesday, accompanied by members of the Baltimore Symphony brass section. During the anthem, a copy of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 will be unfurled on the center-field wall.

As the Orioles players are introduced, they will run from center field to the infield on a red carpet. Lined up to greet them will be players from the Orioles' RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) leagues in Baltimore City and Howard County.

After the game, Johnson and his wife, Susan, will be hosts of a benefit for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the USA Scholars Fund. Forty couples paying $1,000 each will attend the benefit at 7: 30 p.m. at Ruth's Chris Steak House.

Krivda still likes O's

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