Ankle concern to Anderson

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He says X-rays `showed some things'

DeShields inserted as leadoff man

July 31, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Still bothered by soreness in his left ankle, Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson was kept out of the lineup last night and replaced atop the order by second baseman Delino DeShields. Anderson said he might be available to pinch-hit today.

Though dismissing the possibility of going on the disabled list, Anderson indicated the problem runs deeper than initially believed. He had the ankle X-rayed, but wouldn't specify the results.

"It showed some things. Let's leave it at that," he said, grinning. "I'll see if it gets better. If not, I'll play with it like this."

Anderson, who has batted .396 (21-for-53) in his past 16 games, suffered the injury in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 8-6 victory over the Texas Rangers when he rammed his foot into the padded fence in center while chasing Todd Zeile's home run. He was removed for Rich Amaral in the eighth inning but played the next day.

"I want to rest that foot," said manager Ray Miller, who started Amaral in center and batted him eighth against the Seattle Mariners' Gil Meche.

"They have a young right-hander and I'd like to have [Anderson] in there, but he was dragging that foot a little bit yesterday and I don't want to lose him. And this is a pretty spacious outfield. There are big gaps out there, so if he's not 100 percent I want to put someone out there who can run the ball down.

"I talked to [Anderson] last night. He said it was bothering him a little bit and I said, `I'm going to rest you a few days and we'll see what happens. Get it worked on and let me know.' "

DeShields had batted first in four previous games, a spot he was expected to assume after being signed to a three-year contract during the winter. He later was projected as the No. 2 hitter behind Anderson but has taken most of his swings near the bottom of the order after twice going on the disabled list.

"He's the next bona fide leadoff-type hitter and I want to put some speed up front and go left, right, left," said Miller, who had Mike Bordick and B. J. Surhoff batting behind DeShields.

"Actually, I just threw the names in a hat and they fell out that way."

DeShields was 6-for-21 (.286) since being activated from the DL on July 23, and 48-for-137 (.350) in 40 games to raise his average from .135 to .275. He missed 28 games after straining his right hamstring while running out a ground ball in Chicago, but has shown outstanding speed on the bases upon returning to the lineup.

400: `Let it happen'

With Cal Ripken needing one more homer to reach 400 in his career, Miller indicated he won't hold baseball's Iron Man out of the lineup during this six-game trip to improve the odds of the historic blast coming at Camden Yards.

"I can't do that," Miller said. "I think you're really messing up when you try to speed up something or delay it from happening. There aren't any guarantees in this world. I don't think you should tinker with that. You should just let it happen."

The only way Miller said he would consider it is if Ripken played the first five games of the trip and would benefit from taking off Wednesday's game in Oakland.

Miller also said he considered bumping Ripken to second in the lineup to provide extra at-bats, "but I didn't think that was right for the club." He still may do it as Ripken draws closer to 3,000 hits. He needs 34 after going 2-for-4 last night.

Ripken is hitting .395 (30-for-76) with 10 doubles, five homers and 16 RBIs in his past 19 games. He has hit safely in 48 of 60 games since returning from the disabled list on May 13, batting .349 (80-for-229) with 21 doubles, 15 homers and 42 RBIs. During that span, his average has gone from .179 to .332.

"These past two months are the best I've seen him swing in a long, long time," Miller said.

"For whatever reason, getting in a more comfortable stance, he's back to using his hands. He's believing in his hands and the ball is jumping off his bat."

Park praise

Positive reviews on Safeco Field, which opened on July 15, were being dispensed from the visitors' clubhouse.

"It's beautiful, that's for sure," said Amaral, who played in the Kingdome for eight seasons before signing with the Orioles as a free agent this winter. "It's a lot nicer view than concrete."

The $517 million facility includes a retractable roof that allowed the field to be bathed in sunlight for batting practice.

"This is why they built it, for days like this," Amaral said. "The fans didn't really like to come on nice summer days."

Reliever Ricky Bones didn't miss the hitter-friendly Kingdome, which can be seen beyond the left-field bleachers.

"It's nice to walk out there and not see a roof," he said. "It's like, `Now, this is a pitchers' park.' "

Welcome back

This series marks Amaral's second return to Seattle since leaving as a free agent. He received a warm ovation in his first game on May 31. He was 0-for-3 last night.

"It was neat," he said. "I didn't really know what to expect. It means a lot to get that kind of reception."

Rare Bones appearance

In his first appearance since being activated from the disabled list, Bones surrendered three runs to the New York Mets in just two-thirds of an inning in a July 18 game at Camden Yards.

He finally got another chance last night, pitching the sixth and seven innings and not allowing a run.

Pub Date: 7/31/99

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