Anderson to hobble on Oriole determined not to sit out despite severe leg strain

'What is it, 3 weeks?'

Johnson lets outfielder decide after two years of proving docs wrong

October 11, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- On Thursday, Orioles manager Davey Johnson declared his team close to total fitness. He should have savored the moment.

Yesterday, with the sting of the previous night's crushing 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians still achingly fresh, Johnson again found himself discussing pulls and tears along with pitching matchups for today's Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, which shifts to Jacobs Field for the next three games.

Topic A: center fielder Brady Anderson.

Johnson said Anderson will be in the lineup despite a severe muscle strain in his upper right leg incurred catching a fly ball in the fourth inning of Thursday's loss.

"I plan on playing," Anderson said before a workout that he mostly watched. "I am going to play."

Orioles head trainer Richie Bancells described the injury as a strained psoas, a deep, long muscle that runs from the upper femur, though the pelvis and near the abdomen. Bancells said the injury is more closely associated with pitchers given the frequent twisting of their lower bodies.

Bancells allowed that if the injury had occurred during the regular season, Anderson would likely sit for days.

"Well, unless there's an eclipse or something, Brady will be playing," Johnson said. "I told him, 'If you hurt yourself, I'm really going to be hacked off.' He told me, 'What is it, three weeks? I can play three weeks. No problem.' "

Because of the deep muscle strain, Anderson's explosive first step has been nullified and his lateral movement inhibited.

"I'm going to have to measure myself, and I hate that," Anderson said. "I like to get on the field and go all-out all the time. But with this, I can't do that."

At least the Orioles appear to enjoy the favorable end of tonight's pitching matchup. The Indians send ageless Orel Hershiser against Division Series hero Mike Mussina.

Hershiser, 39, is 8-1 in 15 postseason starts. Hershiser received a no-decision in two starts against the Orioles this year while Mussina was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two appearances vs. Cleveland. Questions of shifting momentum in a series the Orioles threatened to dominate rivaled yesterday's injury talk.

"It has to have positive effects for them," Mussina said of the Indians' Thursday rally in which Marquis Grissom reversed a 4-2 deficit with a three-run homer against Armando Benitez with two outs in the eighth inning. "They were very close to being down 2-0. But because we had today off, I don't think it's going to have any real negative effect toward us. If we were playing today, I think they'd have a little momentum on their side. Because we have a day off a little bit of time always makes things easier to handle."

"We're still in a dogfight," said Indians manager Mike Hargrove. "The Orioles have a very, very good ballclub, at least that's what I've heard from [the media] the last three days. It beats the heck out of being down 0-2. It gives us some encouragement and picks us up and being home in front of our fans picks us up also."

Johnson didn't appear to have his confidence dented by Thursday's loss, only his team's fifth of the season when leading after seven innings.

"The makeup of this club is very veteran," he said. "We are not going to dwell on what could have been or what should have been. We know what we have to do. It's right in front of us."

Both teams enter today with fresh injuries. Anderson did nothing except take batting practice during yesterday's workout. Indians left fielder David Justice did even less after suffering a bruised left rotator cuff during Thursday's first inning. Hargrove maintained Justice will play. However, his diminished impact would be huge: He crushed Orioles pitching for a .429 average, two home runs and eight RBIs in the regular season.

Anderson isn't the only outfielder in question. Right fielder Eric Davis rejoined the team yesterday afternoon after taking a round of chemotherapy.

Davis has told Johnson he wants to be in today's lineup but is uncertain because of the treatment's aftereffects.

Anderson has repeatedly shown he feeds on pain. He played through cracked ribs and a sore right knee tendon for most of the season, taking only infrequent days off. Johnson is giving him greater leeway than most other players.

Shortly after Anderson aggravated the sore leg running out a ground ball in Thursday's fifth inning, Johnson and Bancells ran to him. Johnson suggested the center fielder leave the game. Johnson now says he will allow the center fielder heavy say in what he does.

"I figured I should take him out but he talked me out of it," Johnson said. "Brady's overcome a lot of things. The doctors said he needed to have an appendectomy [last year], he said no. He's done that time and time again on different injuries. I trust him and I think he trusts me. I don't want to prove that I can just jerk him out of a game.

"If he says he's going to be all right, I believe him. Although I told him, 'If you get hurt, I'm going to be real mad at you,' I think he'll be all right."

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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