Hoping to improve his extended case for avoiding a season-opening stay on the disabled list, Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson solicited help from an unlikely source yesterday.
Acting on Anderson's suggestion, Orioles trainers obtained a quarterback's flak jacket from the Ravens, then sliced and diced the contraption in an attempt to protect the center fielder's broken left fifth rib.
Players and coaches were given the day off in the wake of yesterday's wind-aided postponement, but Anderson took a brief round of batting practice while wearing the device.
"It was a little weird. I haven't swung with one of those on before. But then again, I haven't played with a broken rib before," Anderson said.
Team officials postponed a decision on Anderson's status until today. Anderson spoke with assistant general manager Kevin Malone after his workout, but did not meet with manager Davey Johnson, still laid low by the flu. Anderson reported feeling no better or worse than on Monday, when he took about 30 cuts in an attempt to show he could play.
Yesterday's effort at least earned Anderson points for innovation. He suggested the flak jacket idea to Orioles trainers Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel, who phoned Ravens equipment manager Ed Carroll with the request. Four jackets were sent to Camden Yards, where they were modified. Because they are intended to protect the lower ribs, the jackets were taken apart with one-half bound to Anderson by a cloth wrap.
"We didn't consider it a major deal," Bancells said. "What we did was tailor it to the player. We worked with him to make it as comfortable as possible."
While in Cleveland, Carroll occasionally allowed the Indians to borrow face guards to shield players who had been beaned. Lending a flak jacket was a first.
"For a baseball player not used to wearing equipment, my concern was for his arms when he's swinging the bat," Carroll said of what is thought to be the first cooperative equipment effort between the Orioles and Ravens. "If it's too bulky, it could be a problem. But we gave them several options. There was even one he could slide on and off quickly that he could wear just on offense."
The jacket is designed to protect Anderson should he crash into a wall or slide headfirst. It was just such a slide during a March 23 exhibition against Atlanta that caused the injury, which threatens to put Anderson on the disabled list for the first time since 1993.
The club remains worried that Anderson could aggravate an injury that doctors believe should otherwise mend in three weeks. If placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to the day of injury, Anderson could play as soon as Monday.
As for the flak jackets, Carroll said they came with no strings attached. "If they don't cut 'em all up, they can send them back. If they help, great."