Anderson survives a rough afternoon Slide, dive test sore rib, but it emerges intact

ORIOLES Notebook

April 08, 1997|By Peter Schmuck and Joe Strauss | Peter Schmuck and Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Leadoff man Brady Anderson never learned how to go half-speed, so it was only a matter of time before he put his injured rib to a significant test.

He did that twice during yesterday's 6-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals, sliding hard into Royals catcher Tim Spehr in the first inning to score the first run of the game and diving headfirst into second base during a game-tying rally in the ninth. The afternoon wasn't entirely painless, but Anderson viewed it as another step in the right direction.

"The play at home plate was no problem," he said. "I was a little more sore after the headfirst slide than before it, but I guess you could say it's a good sign just to be able to do that."

There isn't much that Anderson has been unable to do at the plate through the first week of the season, even though a cracked rib kept him out of action for the final eight days of spring training. He had two very auspicious hits yesterday and reached base four times for the second straight game.

Anderson's double in the first inning was his 1,000th career hit and the first extra-base hit of the year for the guy who set an Orioles record with 93 last season. He followed it up in the sixth inning with his first homer of 1997. He also set the Orioles record for home runs in a season with 50 last year.

But the most impressive thing about his gutsy performance is the amazing frequency with which he has reached base through the first six games. He went 2-for-3 to raise his league-leading batting average to .571. He has reached in seven of his past nine plate appearances and 20 of 29 overall for a league-leading .690 on-base percentage.

The only thing he hasn't done is play the field. Jeffrey Hammonds has started all six games in center field. Manager Davey Johnson has kept Anderson in the designated hitter spot to avoid the possibility of a rib-cracking collision with the outfield wall, a conservative approach that has met with no opposition from Anderson.

"I want to make sure I'm completely healed before I go play the outfield," Anderson said. "I want to be able to play it the way I always have. I don't want to have to worry about diving and fences. That might be a little while."

Davis back in lineup

Right fielder Eric Davis returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game with an inflamed tendon behind his left knee, and stole his second base of the season to set up a big run in the eighth inning.

"I was concerned about him," Johnson said, "but he told me he was much improved."

The Orioles can't afford to lose him. Davis is a key element in the club's new chemistry and his health is considered one of the most important variables in the Orioles' AL East equation.

The stolen base was an encouraging sign, but Davis still is feeling some discomfort. "I figured I had one burst in me," he said. "I wanted to save it for an important point in the game."

Mussina: no problem

Right-hander Mike Mussina reported no soreness on the day after he made his first start of the 1997 season and is set to make his first home start Saturday against the Texas Rangers.

Royals' numbers game

The Royals unveiled a special display of the club's three retired numbers in pre-game ceremonies honoring late manager Dick Howser, soon-to-be Hall of Famer George Brett and all-time Royals second baseman Frank White.

Their numbers -- 10, 5 and 20 -- have been affixed to the base of the center-field scoreboard as a permanent reminder of the contributions the three made to the Royals' organization. Brett and White took part in a triple first-ball ceremony along with Howser's widow, Nancy.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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