`Weird' irritation of nerve in left foot sidelines Anderson

Orioles notebook

Persistent numbness makes flexing impossible

O's think injury not serious

March 13, 2000|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson did not participate in yesterday's workout or 9-8 exhibition win over the New York Mets because of a nerve irritation that makes it impossible for him to flex his left foot.

Anderson suffered the condition, which he classified as a kind of "palsy," after icing his left knee Saturday morning. After icing, he noticed persistent numbness in the leg. Anderson tried to walk off the sensation, leaving the clubhouse to speak with his father on an adjacent concourse. However, when Anderson tried to rise from a bench, he fell forward and had to catch himself.

"This has never happened to me before," said Anderson, who has a history of patella tendon soreness which necessitates frequent icing. "I don't know how long it's supposed to last. I don't what it really is except for some kind of palsy. It's weird."

Anderson likened the sensation to his leg "falling asleep." He arrived at camp yesterday morning with his leg wrapped in towels while walking with obvious discomfort. A team doctor examined him, but further tests have yet to be prescribed.

Team officials say they do not believe the condition serious.

Manager Mike Hargrove said he witnessed a similar occurrence with two Cleveland Indians players and that the symptoms disappeared after "two or three days."

Hargrove said that "on a scale of one to 10, I'd rate it a three, only because we don't know for certain" how long Anderson will be out.

"I can't do anything right now," said Anderson, whose condition had improved markedly from Saturday. "Or maybe I should say I can do anything unless it involves walking or running."

Anderson said the affected nerve extends from his knee down the outside of his left leg. He is not expected to dress today and may also miss games in Fort Myers and Port Charlotte.

More misery for Conine

A tough spring again ganged up on would-be third baseman Jeff Conine. Flu-like symptoms that have been sweeping the team's cramped clubhouse prevented him from reporting to Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Conine lives in Fort Lauderdale and was recuperating at home.

What was supposed to be a crash course in learning the subtleties of third base has instead become an obstacle course for the versatile Conine. An overdose of throwing from third base resulted in irritation of his right rotator cuff, necessitating a cortisone injection. Conine has appeared in five of 10 exhibitions, hitting .231 in 13 at-bats, but has received very limited exposure at third. Hargrove downplayed Conine's role at the position even before the injury -- Hargrove projected Cal Ripken's understudy would start there only once every 10 to 14 days -- but recent complications have prevented Conine from experiencing the game situations considered pivotal to his move.

For now, his absence creates an opening for Ryan Minor, who entered yesterday's game against the Mets second on the team in at-bats (19) and tied for the lead with three extra-base hits.

Ancient left-hander returns

The still-dark mustache and goatee are somewhat thicker, the arm a little older and his trim physique still belies a 42-year-old reliever. Otherwise, the only thing that has changed for Jesse Orosco is the uniform on his back.

Orosco returned to Fort Lauderdale Stadium for the first time since his December trade to the Mets for left-handed reliever Chuck McElroy. It's a position the popular Orosco could not have envisioned after making 65 appearances for the Orioles last season, when he established a major-league record for career appearances (1,090). However, the naming of Hargrove, with whom he had clashed while with the Indians in 1991, motivated Orosco to ask for a trade, accept a $500,000 buyout for his no-trade status, and break a pledge that he would never return to New York as a player.

"It was New York and a couple other teams," Orosco said of his possible landing sites. "So, here I am. I'm going to handle it. One year two years however long I have. Plus, I've got a chance to win."

Orosco, who secured the final out of the 1986 World Series, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1987, never thinking he would someday return. Asked how he expects to be received next month by fans in Gotham, Orosco said, "Half of them will probably think it's Jesse Jr."

Before arriving in New York, Orosco will first become the only player to have played in last season's Cuba exhibitions and a season-opening series against the Chicago Cubs in Japan.

"When I came over here, they asked me if I'd ever been to Japan. I thought that was an odd question. That's how I found out," said Orosco, recalling the circus atmosphere of last spring's "people-to-people" ordeal. "I can't stand flying. Oh, well."

Around the horn

Just because Albert Belle has been more agreeable this spring doesn't mean that the same applies to fans. A heckler wearing a Ken Griffey Cincinnati Reds jersey jumped all over Belle when the right fielder returned to the dugout after the Mets' three-run third inning. "Come on, Albert, is it too much to ask for a little hustle?" said the fan, standing with arms spread behind the dugout. Belle responded when the fan persisted, and several teammates eventually left the dugout to shout down the fan. Pat Rapp is scheduled to make his second appearance of spring today against the Dodgers. He has been out nearly a week with a throat infection. Matt Riley is scheduled for his first appearance after suffering a strained biceps last week. His spring debut will give him as many outings as traffic incidents. Riley received a citation after a fender-bender Thursday afternoon.

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