Anderson slowly regains range of motion, but not lineup spot

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Nerve damage in leg makes date of return uncertain

outfielder still concerned

March 14, 2000|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Center fielder Brady Anderson expressed continued concern over the mysterious loss of sensation in his left leg that yesterday kept him out of uniform for a third straight exhibition game and will prevent him from appearing in either of the Orioles' road games against the Minnesota Twins today and Texas Rangers tomorrow.

Worse, the club remains uncertain when Anderson might return.

"I don't know when I'll be back. I have no idea," said Anderson, acknowledging that numbness affecting his ability to run had lessened since Sunday. "How long does it take a nerve to regenerate?"

The Orioles say Anderson suffered nerve damage while applying ice to his left knee Saturday. The center fielder later stumbled when trying to lift himself from a bench outside the clubhouse and could not raise his left foot until yesterday. His foot's range of motion remains severely limited. Anderson received treatment yesterday but did not dress and left the park shortly after the start of a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I wouldn't even try to guess when I'll be ready," Anderson said. "There's no time frame that I know of."

Until yesterday, Anderson led the team in exhibition at-bats with 22 but was batting only .182 with one run scored, two RBIs and no stolen bases. Manager Mike Hargrove has alternated Wayne Kirby and Eugene Kingsale in center field in Anderson's absence.

"It's better than it was [Sunday]. That's encouraging. We just have to wait and see," Hargrove said.

Anderson isn't the only position player missing significant time. Jeff Conine was kept home and will not play until at least Thursday because of the flu, according to the club. Numerous players have been limited by similar symptoms, which struck Hargrove on Sunday night.

Rapp, Riley return

Pat Rapp still hasn't fully recovered from a throat infection that prevented him from pitching for a week, but he was able to get through three innings yesterday in fairly impressive fashion.

Both runs allowed by Rapp came in the second inning after he had gotten two outs. He issued a walk, allowed an infield hit on a high chopper to third and surrendered a two-run double to veteran shortstop Kevin Elster. Rapp, who also walked Todd Hollandsworth with two outs in the first, retired all three batters he faced in the third before being replaced by Matt Riley.

"I still felt strong out there," said Rapp, who's projected as the fourth starter after Scott Erickson's elbow surgery but could move ahead of struggling No. 3 starter Jason Johnson. "I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty good. I got a couple of first-pitch outs. I let my cutter work a little bit and they popped up. I had a good curveball and a good change. I felt pretty good."

Just not completely back to normal. Rapp still has some soreness in his throat and congestion in his chest that affects his breathing. He also hasn't regained all his strength.

"With the wind blowing me off the mound a little bit, it kind of felt funny," he said. "I've got bed legs because I've been in bed for two or three days. I've got a lot of stuffiness, but it feels like it's breaking up. Hopefully, it'll get better the next couple days. I'll sweat it out."

Riley threw two shutout innings in his first appearance this spring. He had been limited to bullpen sessions because of soreness in his left biceps.

Only two batters reached against Riley, on a fourth-inning walk and a fifth-inning error by Kirby. He was more efficient in the fifth after speaking with pitching coach Sammy Ellis and correcting a flaw in his mechanics.

"I asked him if I was a little late with my separation and he said, `Yes, you're a little hesitant with your delivery. Just let it go and let the rhythm take over and relax.' And that's what I took into that second inning," he said.

"I'm just glad to get out there. For my first time being out there, I felt great. I was a little shaky in the first, but it just takes a few pitches to get in a groove. All in all, I was really impressed with what I did. I wish I could have pitched more."

Falkenborg out for season

Brian Falkenborg, who appeared in two games with the Orioles after being called up Oct. 1, will have season-ending "Tommy John" transplant surgery on March 28.

The procedure will be done by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

Falkenborg, 22, hasn't been able to throw this spring because of soreness in his right elbow. It has been a recurring problem for the 1996 second-round draft pick. He missed two months of each of the past two seasons because of discomfort that doctors had hoped would subside without surgery. When it cropped up again this soon, he was left with little choice.

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