Anderson, Bordick open by going on offensive

Pair's 1999 hitting debuts soothe struggles of '98

Opening Day 1999

April 06, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

It seems that those Orioles might have something going at the top of the order.

Two guys who struggled last season -- center fielder Brady Anderson and shortstop Mike Bordick -- battered Devil Rays pitching yesterday and successfully set the table for the Orioles' Opening Day win.

Anderson and Bordick, who combined for a .250 batting average last season, collected five hits in eight at-bats. They drove in three runs, scored three times and walked twice. Anderson's homer to right on a 3-2 pitch from Wilson Alvarez was the Orioles' first run of the season.

Anderson finished with three hits and picked up his second RBI with an eighth-inning single. Bordick scored in the third on a home run by Albert Belle and drove in Jeff Reboulet in the fourth on the way to 2-for-4 outing.

"Opening Day is such an anxiety attack," said Bordick, who is filling in at No. 2 in the batting order for second baseman Delino DeShields. "You want to get off to a good start, you want to have success, and fortunately, I snuck a couple in today."

Bordick had been stuffed toward the bottom of the lineup for the better part of his previous two Orioles seasons. He moved toward the top only after DeShields hurt his left thumb, which will keep him out at least until the weekend.

In the meantime, Bordick hit .355 in spring training (four doubles, 11 RBIs in 23 games).

After yesterday's game, Anderson mocked any attention paid to his 1998 start when he went 4-for-63 while battling back, shoulder and neck injuries.

"It's better to get off to a good start than a poor start," Anderson said when asked of his relief at collecting almost as many hits yesterday as he did in the first month of last year. "It's better being successful than unsuccessful. I've noticed that."

And yet, in the sense of self-deprecating humor that prompted him to jokingly correct those who thought he had three hits in the first month -- "You're robbing me of a hit" -- there is the awareness of the fact that perhaps he had fallen in esteem since his 50-homer, 110-RBI year of 1996.

"I told him on the first day [of spring training] that a lot of people think you're slipping, but I think you're a great ballplayer," Orioles manager Ray Miller said. "He played every day in spring training and proved it."

In contrast to 1997 and 1998, it was a healthy Anderson who arrived in Fort Lauderdale this February, and a healthy Anderson who left to begin this season. He hit .290 and had an on-base percentage of .412, leading Baltimore with 16 RBIs while playing in 23 of the team's 27 games.

"I enjoyed my attention to get a lot of at-bats, and to get a feel for having some successful at-bats," Anderson said. "Sometimes it's hard to take what you did in spring into the season, but you want to make those spring at-bats count."

New Orioles general manager Frank Wren got his first look at Anderson, but he'd seen enough of him previously to notice a difference from earlier years -- more patient at bat, more assertive when running the bases -- that could result in more run production.

"In the past, he's been a very productive player," Wren said, "but the one thing I saw was him driving the ball to the opposite field, turning on the ball and hitting home runs when the pitcher gave him something to hit and running the bases aggressively. He wasn't able to do some of those things before because he was injured."

Pub Date: 4/06/99

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