Anderson climbs, one at-bat at a time Digging out of .077 hole is hardly overnight job


June 23, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

It's 5: 15 on a humid afternoon at Camden Yards and Brady Anderson is working his way through several rounds of batting practice as he continues to rebound from a miserable .077 start at the plate this season.

Anderson drives several shots off the wall all around the outfield and seems to be satisfied with his swing.

He takes a few minutes out to sign autographs for some of the many fans who always flock to him near the Orioles dugout before games. They love Anderson no matter whether he's hitting .100 or .300, and he returns the affection.

Anderson is hitting the ball with authority once more, adding two singles last night to three doubles the previous two games to raise his average to .312 on the current homestand.

He had four hits Saturday in an 11-3 victory over Toronto and has 14 extra-base hits in the last 23 games. In the first 31 games, he had just eight extra-base hits.

Anderson's 2-for-4 against the New York Mets last night raised his average to .215, which does not fit for a man who hit 50 home runs and drove in 110 in 1996.

No one is more uncomfortable with .215 than Anderson. He knew he was in for a long season with such a disastrous start.

"You have to keep in mind I went 10-for-100 before I went on the disabled list [April 21 to May 8] and I knew then I would have to go hundreds of at-bats hitting .300 to work my way back," said Anderson, who was hitting .077 at the time. "This is not something that is going to happen overnight. The thing for me to do is to go up every at-bat and do my best. The big thing about hitting is to be consistent. I haven't been consistent this year."

Anderson's patience is starting to be rewarded with results and it would be easy for the 34-year-old outfielder to project outstanding results the rest of the season.

No way, said Anderson.

"I don't project," he said. "I know what I have to do. It's a challenge for me. I have seen a lot of good signs over the last 100 at-bats, but I have no idea what will happen the rest of the season."

In short, it has been a perplexing season for Anderson.

When the Orioles jumped off to a 10-2 start, Anderson wasn't contributing. Now he is producing a lot more and the team is still struggling to get back to .500.

"We have to put together 30-40 games where we play .600 baseball or even better to get back in it," said Anderson. "If we get our pitching straightened out, we have a chance. We put ourselves in some sort of a hole the way we played in May [11-17]."

In a season gone wrong for himself and the team, Anderson reflected on the painful shoulder strain that sent him to the disabled list so early in the season.

"In retrospect, some people say I should have gone on the DL sooner," said Anderson. "But that is hindsight. I've been able to play with pain well in the past and you want to believe you can do it again. You're always going to be playing with some kind of injuries during a season. Isn't going out and playing 100 percent in as many games as possible what it's all about?"

Orioles manager Ray Miller said the early absence of Anderson in the leadoff position and his slow start have played a major role in the team's 37-39 start.

"When you look at all the clubs that got out of the blocks fast this season, the first two guys in the lineup were on base a lot," said Miller. "Juan Gonzalez [Texas Rangers] has received a lot of attention with 89 RBIs, but there had to be a lot of guys on base in front of him. When [injured Mark] McLemore is not in the lineup, Gonzalez isn't driving in as many runs."

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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