Anderson returns with bang


Outfielder homers, scores twice in 1st game in weeks

cuts thin out clubhouse

March 29, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brady Anderson played center field yesterday for the first time since March 10, which alone would have been a triumph.

Anderson decided to take it a little further. And by the time he was finished, some doubts about his availability for Opening Day had begun to fade.

Leading off as usual, Anderson homered on his first swing and later stroked a two-run single in the Orioles' 10-9 victory over the Minnesota Twins. He also walked twice and scored twice.

"I was just happy to be playing. I missed it," he said. "I've been doing stuff every day, training as hard as I can."

Anderson had been idled by a nerve irritation in his left leg that caused numbness in his foot and opened the possibility that he could go on the disabled list. He participated in three Triple-A games at the club's minor-league camp in Sarasota, Fla., going 10-for-26.

This would be different, however, because he played in the field rather than serve as the designated hitter. Anderson wasn't really tested in center, but he managed to score from first on a triple by Delino DeShields in the fourth inning.

Health wouldn't be the biggest challenge for Anderson as he rounded the bases. Instead, he almost lost his shoe because of the air cast he wears when playing. "I had to gather my stride and jam my heel back in my shoe," he said.

Anderson, who had been 4-for-22 before yesterday, will get more chances in center before the Orioles conclude their exhibition schedule on Sunday. Manager Mike Hargrove indicated after yesterday's game that "barring a setback," he expects Anderson to avoid the disabled list.

"I never ruled out Opening Day," Anderson said. "I didn't really say anything because I didn't know for sure what the injury was. I think I have a reputation for going out on the field when I can play, and I don't plan on this year being any different."

Myers, Amaral are staying

As the Orioles' pitching staff comes into focus, so does the composition of its bench.

With Hargrove deciding to head north with an 11-man staff, he can keep an extra position player until a fifth starter is needed on April 9. He named catcher Greg Myers, outfielder Rich Amaral and infielder/outfielder Jeff Conine as players who will make the club. With DeShields showing Hargrove he can play center field if needed, there appears to be room on the 25-man roster for both Jesus Garcia and Jerry Hairston.

This scenario would change, however, if the Orioles make a trade or Hargrove decides to keep outfielder Wayne Kirby, a former Cleveland Indian who remains in camp despite a .158 average.

Hairston raised his club-leading average to .372 yesterday with a ninth-inning single. Twins reliever Matt Carnes twice had thrown near Hairston's head in the at-bat.

"I don't even know him," Hairston said.

Cleaning house

The Orioles did the inevitable yesterday by placing Scott Erickson on the 15-day disabled list.

Erickson underwent arthroscopic surgery on March 3 to remove bone chips from his right elbow. His return has been projected for early May, though he's been rehabbing ahead of schedule.

Erickson threw off a mound for the first time on Monday. The session lasted about five minutes. He's expected to try again today in Fort Lauderdale, this time extending himself a little longer.

The Orioles made some other moves yesterday to get their camp roster down to 30 players. Pitchers Jason Johnson, Gabe Molina and Radhames Dykhoff, infielders Calvin Pickering and Ryan Minor and outfielder Eugene Kingsale were optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Catcher Tommy Davis and pitchers Rafael Pina and Javier de la Hoya were reassigned to the minor-league camp in Sarasota, Fla.

Pickering enjoyed the ultimate walk-off home run, hitting a two-run blast in the ninth and heading straight to Sarasota. He leaves the Orioles after batting .229 (8-for-35) with three homers and nine RBIs.

"They already know everything I can do," he said. "I have nothing else to prove. I just have to wait my turn."

Minor also will wait. In the meantime, he impressed club officials by batting .342 with six doubles, a homer and six RBIs in 38 at-bats.

Pina lasted quite a while for someone with no chance of making the club. He continued to show up at the ballpark each day, making all the trips and serving mostly as an insurance policy in case Hargrove needed an extra pitcher.

"If I haven't been pitching, I've been backing up every day," he said. "I don't mind. It's better than being in the hotel."

Pina, 28, had pitched in Mexico for five seasons and in China for one before signing a minor-league contract with the Orioles last year. He was assigned to Rochester, where last year he went 8-10 with a 4.37 ERA and five saves in 48 games, including 10 starts.

He appeared in only five games this spring, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings. He even picked up a win.

"As long as [Hargrove] knows my name, it helps me out."

Worrell gets results

Knowing he had to earn a spot on the 40-man roster, reliever Tim Worrell couldn't afford to experiment during his eight appearances. He needed results.

It worked out fine for Worrell, whose contract was purchased by the club on Monday, assuring he'll be part of a reconfigured bullpen.

"It made some things difficult because in certain instances you had to worry about getting a guy out over working on something. But that was part of reaching a goal, to make the team. That's why I came here," he said.

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