Anderson gets start, then leaves early

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He departs in fifth inning

movement remains limited

March 30, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brady Anderson led off and played center field yesterday in his second game since March 10, but left early as a precaution in the Orioles' 8-2 win over the Montreal Expos.

Continuing his return from a nerve irritation in his left leg, Anderson was hit by a pitch in the first inning and scored on a single by Albert Belle. He also singled and flied out before Rich Amaral replaced him in the fifth inning.

In his last at-bat, Anderson's foot gave out as he was swinging. Manager Mike Hargrove decided to play it safe and make the substitution.

"He'll play [today] unless it's sore," Hargrove said, referring to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter.

Anderson still isn't moving as freely as before the injury, but he cut off a ball in left-center field in the second inning and held former Oriole Lenny Webster to a single. He also ran down a single to right-center in the fourth.

On the first play, Anderson showed how cautious he remains with the injury by failing to plant his foot to stop his momentum before throwing. Instead, he kept drifting toward left field before slowing enough to turn and get rid of the ball. He then took a stroll along the warning track while returning to center.

"I think he's still trying to get his confidence in that foot," Hargrove said. "I was surprised he was able to make that play as well as he made it. He did a good job holding the guy to a single."

Regular success

The Orioles broke out their Opening Day lineup for the second straight game. And once again, it produced a win.

Anyone looking for a good sign should cling tightly to this.

Hargrove has Delino DeShields batting second and Mike Bordick ninth, a latter spot occupied mostly by catcher Charles Johnson last season. Johnson is hitting eighth, one spot behind Will Clark, who has settled behind Cal Ripken.

Harold Baines again batted fifth as the designated hitter, even though the Expos were starting a left-hander, Trey Moore. It's not a scenario that will play out often during the season.

"There will be a few variations," Hargrove said. "Against a left-handed starter, I'm not sure that Harold will start in front of [Jeff] Conine. But it'll be pretty close to what we had."

Conine takes the field

Conine replaced Ripken at third base in the fifth inning. It was the only time he had played there besides a March 4 game in Viera because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff that required a cortisone shot.

Conine handled the first ball hit to him, a hard smash that he turned into a double play with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth. In his lone previous chance at third, he committed a throwing error.

Hargrove had eased Conine back onto the field by playing him at first and in left. He still envisions Conine backing up Ripken during the season, in part to get additional at-bats that will be needed if Clark remains healthy.

Webster catches on

Webster, signed by the Expos to a minor-league contract, apparently has made the club as a backup catcher.

Manager Felipe Alou is leaning toward keeping three catchers, allowing veterans Webster and Charlie O'Brien to remain along with starter Chris Widger. O'Brien will remain in Florida, however, while the club heads north after receiving a cortisone shot in his right foot on March 21.

Webster singled twice yesterday, raising his average to .370 (10-for-27) with a homer and six RBIs in 17 games.

Relaxed and ready

The best advice Calvin Maduro may have received came from himself.

Having been released by the Philadelphia Phillies and subjected to another stint in the minors, Maduro decided to approach the 1999 season in a state of relaxation. It was the next-best thing to being in the state of Maryland.

Why press, just because he needed to make a good impression at Triple-A Rochester or perhaps lose his chance to get back to the big leagues? Just because he wasn't even on the 40-man roster, let alone in the Orioles immediate plans?

Maduro, 25, laid the foundation for his insertion into the club's rotation this spring by leading the Red Wings in five categories, including victories (11) and strikeouts (149). He followed up with one of the most productive springs of any Orioles pitcher this year, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA, three walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 innings. And as the club readies to depart Florida, Maduro is being touted as the fourth starter.

Given the upheaval in the Orioles' rotation, with Scott Erickson unavailable until late April or early May and Jason Johnson being optioned to Triple-A Rochester, Maduro became a natural fit. It also didn't hurt Maduro's cause that he was out of options, forcing the Orioles to keep him or risk losing him to waivers.

"Coming in, the chances were pretty slim of even finding a spot in the bullpen. Now I'm the fourth starter, so I'm really, really happy," he said. "I'm looking forward to the season starting. I wish my start was tomorrow."

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