Anderson squarely in Johnson's corner O's 'would be crazy' to force out manager, center fielder says

October 15, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson threw his support behind manager Davey Johnson yesterday, lobbying for him to receive a contract extension and maintaining "the team would be crazy" to oust him after a playoff loss.

"There's no reason he shouldn't be here next year. He should be here the next five years. It should be a situation where we've got a manager and we don't even need to worry about it anymore," Anderson said.

Anderson, a pending free agent, has repeatedly cited a desire for organizational continuity during his negotiations with Orioles owner Peter Angelos for a contract extension. Johnson, he says, represents a significant part of that continuity.

"I've heard Peter Angelos talk about continuity. You always have to start over with a new manager," Anderson said after yesterday's optional workout at Camden Yards. "Davey is clearly better to manage this team this year than he was last year. Next year he'll be better than he was this year. He knows the team. Davey's been successful everywhere he goes. I think the team would be crazy to let him go."

Anderson's sentiment represents an evolution from last year, when Johnson piqued several of the club's veterans, most notably third baseman Cal Ripken and reluctant designated hitter Bobby Bonilla.

Players said they were sometimes blindsided by Johnson's calculations, such as moving Ripken from shortstop to third base, installing Bonilla as DH shortly into the season or adopting a four-man rotation uncomfortable for Mike Mussina. Johnson has taken pains to establish better communication with players this year, sometimes allowing Anderson to determine when and where he plays.

When Ripken's bulging disk in his back became an issue last month, Johnson assured the Iron Man any decision to rest or serve as designated hitter would be his.

Anderson acknowledged "occasional conflicts and mini-conflicts" that have peppered Johnson's two-year term but said some issues have been overblown.

"Players get to know a manager, and the manager gets to know players. I think his record speaks for itself," Anderson said.

The Orioles' 98-win season improved Johnson's winning percentage, the best of any active manager, to .575. However, his status remained up for grabs until after the Orioles defeated the Seattle Mariners in the Division Series. Angelos confirmed that Johnson would be allowed to return for the third year of a three-year, $2.25 million contract but refused to say whether he would be signed beyond 1998. Speculation persists that the owner could reverse course if the Orioles fail to reach the World Series.

Angelos disagreed with Johnson's handling of Roberto Alomar's unexcused absence from a July 10 exhibition. Johnson fined the player $10,500, infuriating Angelos, who believed he should have first been notified. The fine will be rescinded after the postseason, according to organization sources.

"I've talked to him for many, many hours about many, many subjects, and I always give Davey my endorsement if it comes up," Anderson said.

"[Angelos] said the only person that talked about him not coming back was him. If you're an owner like Angelos, I think you have the right to voice your displeasure every now and then. But if you read any animosity between Davey and Peter, that doesn't necessarily mean his job's in jeopardy."

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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