As luck runs out, Anderson takes chance Injured knee aside, he lobbies way into lineup: 'We're not in good position'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 27, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- Hobbled Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson successfully lobbied manager Ray Miller to include him in last night's lineup despite a frayed right patella tendon that caused the club to contemplate putting him on the disabled list on Tuesday.

The start was Anderson's first since being injured Aug. 20 and was admittedly influenced by the club's fading hopes for overtaking the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card chase. He was 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.

"I guess I realized where we are in the standings," Anderson said. "I thought about it a lot. Obviously we're not in a very good position."

Unsuccessful efforts by general manager Pat Gillick to trade for an additional outfielder also made Miller more receptive to the idea.

"[Anderson] came in and said, 'Let's find out.' I'm all for it," Miller said. "We'll find out something one way or the other."

Miller seemed resigned Tuesday to keeping Anderson for his bat only. However, that was before the Orioles' lost their fifth in six games and dropped 10 games behind the Red Sox with 30 remaining. The alternatives to last night's experiment were to continue playing Rich Becker in center field or using sore-armed Eric Davis there. Becker, who had started three consecutive games, originally was in last night's lineup.

"Our chances are starting to be very limited," Anderson said. "I want to know what I can do now. You can't really know that until you put yourself into a game situation."

Anderson took batting practice on Monday's day off before attempting to run in the outfield before Tuesday's game. He never got beyond a jog.

The Orioles are reluctant to disable him because of the approaching roster expansion and the lack of an everyday center fielder within the system. Meanwhile, Gillick has pressed to trade for a right-handed-hitting outfielder. The need has existed since the Aug. 10 trade that sent Jeffrey Hammonds to the Cincinnati Reds for Willie Greene.

While Anderson admitted Tuesday that the condition limits him, he is not concerned about aggravating the condition. He is apparently resigned to undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair the tendon after the season. Depending on what he is able to do -- and where the club goes in the standings -- the Orioles are still entertaining the possibility of shutting him down for the remainder of the season.

Expanding the clubhouse

Miller remains opposed to overrunning the clubhouse with call-ups when rosters expand Sept. 1 but he took time to lobby for the promotion of infielder P. J. Forbes. Impressed by Forbes in spring training and during his brief exposure in Baltimore, Miller cited him along with outfielder Lyle Mouton and the need for another right-handed reliever. Mouton's contract stipulates that he be promoted. Miller mentioned Rocky Coppinger and Chris Fussell as potentially filling the bullpen need.

"Right now all I've got is two available right-handers [Alan Mills and Pete Smith] because I have to hold [Armando] Benitez for the end," Miller said. "Against a team like this, you really don't have a need for a left-hander, so that leaves you two guys to go through the middle of their lineup."

Neither Fussell nor Coppinger has had major-league exposure this season. Coppinger is a year removed from rotator cuff and elbow surgery. While he has yet to recapture his velocity from 1996. Miller is also leery of promoting players who may chafe at inactivity. He and Coppinger have sparred before.

Miller says he wants only a few additions to his clubhouse and anticipates no more than "six or eight." Third baseman Ryan Minor, second baseman Jerry Hairston and first baseman Calvin Pickering are expected to make the drive from Double-A Bowie. With Willis Otanez already on hand, promotions beyond Fussell and Coppinger from Triple-A Rochester are uncertain.

Sinuses sap Palmeiro

Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-4 last night, battling out of a 4-for-39 skid and fighting a sinus condition that left him weak. Since reaching 100 RBIs, Palmeiro had done little on offense. Miller said yesterday that he believes the first baseman has begun pulling off the ball, the same problem that hampered him last season.

"I haven't been going good at all. I'm trying to do too much," admitted Palmeiro. He hit his 39th homer and drove in runs Nos. 107 and 108 after having been stalled for two weeks. "I just need to comfortable again. It'll come."

Despite his sinus condition, Palmeiro took a heavy dose of early hitting yesterday. He is now one shy of his first 40-home run season.

Around the horn

With his single Tuesday night, Otanez became the first Oriole to hit safely in his first major-league at-bat since Curtis Goodwin on June 2, 1995.

Cal Ripken ended a two-game drought. He had reached base in the previous 46 consecutive games. Then he went 2-for-3 with his 12th homer last night. He is hitting .354 in his past 30 games.

The Babe Ruth Museum is exhibiting Roberto Alomar's 1998 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player trophy until Sept. 25. The trophy is on loan from Alomar before it is returned to his home in Puerto Rico. Call 410-727-1539 for information.

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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