Leg is still hurting, but Anderson begins to take positive steps

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Center fielder encouraged by past few days' progress

Notebook

March 25, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

JUPITER, Fla. -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson stayed behind in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, still unable to commit to an Opening Day start but encouraged by his progress the past few days.

Anderson hasn't played for the Orioles since March 10 because of nerve irritation in his left leg that caused numbness in his foot. Standing at his locker yesterday, Anderson said sensation has returned, but he's still dealing with weakness near the ankle.

"According to what the doctor said, it's actually getting better quicker than I thought," said Anderson, who's 4-for-22 in seven games. "You have to understand that it's just unusual circumstances. You strain a hamstring, you have a good idea. With this, the progress is pretty incremental."

Anderson experienced a palsy in his left leg after icing his knee March 11. His foot became numb, and he almost fell while trying to step forward after rising from a bench.

His health has improved enough that he participated this week in controlled games at the Orioles' minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla. Leading off every inning as the designated hitter, Anderson went 3-for-7 with a double and stolen base Wednesday against a collection of Triple-A players. He took the rehab process a step further Thursday, playing in both the Triple-A and Double-A games on adjoining fields.

Again serving as leadoff hitter and DH, Anderson went 4-for-8 with a double and triple in the Triple-A game. When he noticed the action nearby, he couldn't resist getting some extra at-bats, finishing 2-for-3 with a double.

"It's the coolest experience I ever had in baseball," he said. "I just wish I could do that the rest of my life. If they could set up games for me in Sarasota, I would quit the big leagues and just play there. I got to lead off every single inning. Every single inning. And then they had a Double-A field there. I asked the manager, and he said, `Sure, you want to hit first?' I said, `No, I'm not ready. Can I hit third?' He said, `Yeah.'

"I hit third, went back to the Triple-A field to hit, back to the Double-A, back to the Triple-A. I thought it was out of line they didn't set up the A-ball field for me. I'd get 27 at-bats."

Asked what he'll do next, Anderson said, "Just keep playing when I can, I guess.

"The main thing is I've got to hit. I wanted to face live pitching. I had some good at-bats, so I got to test my leg on the bases."

It wasn't quite the same as facing major-league pitching, but Anderson wanted the at-bats, no matter where they came.

"They were trying to get me out, I would imagine," he said. "The pitchers were good. They threw fine."

The weakness in his ankle makes Anderson susceptible to a sprain, but he dismissed any injury concerns.

"I'm just concerned about being able to go out and play baseball," he said.

"I'm not frustrated. I'll do what I can. I train hard to get ready to play. And this isn't like `Tommy John' surgery or knee surgery. You just deal with things as they come up. I'm not going to mope about it. I'm just going to try to get better and play. And I will."

Worrell: in or out?

With spring training about a week from its conclusion, reliever Tim Worrell remains uncertain whether he's done enough to convince manager Mike Hargrove that he deserves a place in the Orioles' reconfigured bullpen.

The numbers say he should be a lock.

Worrell, signed to a minor-league contract in February, has allowed one run in 10 innings. Jot down a projected bullpen alignment, especially if Hargrove retains Calvin Maduro as the fifth starter and goes with 12 pitchers, and it's difficult not to pencil in Worrell's name.

"I've pitched to get myself ready for the season," said Worrell, who can become a free agent if not added to the 40-man roster by Monday.

"Results can be deceiving. There are times I could have given up a lot more runs and it didn't happen. But I feel like I've pitched good and gotten myself in shape, whether the results were good or bad. The results happen to be good, so I've put myself in a good spot to make the team. But that's not up to me.

"I can't control what the team decides. I'm not going to say it never enters my mind, but to dwell on it like in years past and worry about stuff, it's not worth it. I only control what I do to prepare to pitch. That's what I've tried to do."

Worrell's primary competition comes from Al Reyes, who hasn't allowed a run in his past two appearances after giving up 12 hits and walking six in 8 1/3 innings. There's also Jose Mercedes, who didn't allow a run in his first 13 innings and is expected to be in the bullpen if he doesn't join the rotation.

Not assuming anything

Infielder Jesus Garcia has been hearing for months how he's the successor to utility infielder Jeff Reboulet, who was traded to Kansas City during the winter meetings. It won't be long until he gets the official word.

If it actually comes.

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