Sore knee prompts Anderson to sit out

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Problem is connected to spring nerve injury

C. Johnson not in swing

May 07, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | By Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - In deciding whether to start Brady Anderson yesterday, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove had to weigh a career batting average against common sense. He chose common sense.

Anderson was hitting .302 with two homers in 53 at-bats against New York's Roger Clemens, but a sore left knee kept him out of the lineup yesterday in the Orioles'3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium.

Anderson was favoring the knee slightly when he walked through the clubhouse yesterday, and he winced as he removed his pants at his locker. He had run down a few balls in the spacious outfield the previous night, welcoming a firmer surface than what he's used to at Camden Yards. He also had singled, scored a run and laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Yesterday, Anderson remained on the bench until the ninth inning, when he pinch-ran for Harold Baines. He got as far as third base before the game ended.

In spring training, Anderson dealt with a nerve injury in his left leg that manifested itself in numbess and weakness in the foot and ankle. Anderson sprained the ankle twice while running the bases in Fort Lauderdale, but didn't feel it right away because the area lacked any sensation.

"It's just a little sore right now," he said yesterday. "It's still a little weak in [the ankle] sometimes and I've been compensating for it. But I'm running pretty well."

Delino DeShields replaced Anderson atop the order and went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. DeShields is 18-for-39(.462) in his last 11 games.

Anderson recently was named the top leadoff hitter by Baseball America, beating out Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall. Last season, he posted acareer-high .404 on-base percentage.

This season, Anderson is batting .263 with seven doubles, four homers, 14 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage.

C. Johnson has `lost' stroke

Catcher Charles Johnson is trying to find a cure for a 7-for-42 slump. Yesterday, Hargrove prescribed rest.

Greg Myers was given the start despite a.185 (5-for-27) career average against Clemens. He went 0-for-4, striking out against closer Mariano Rivera to end the game and strand two runners, and is 1-for-15 this season.

Johnson is a self-professed streaky hitter. Last season, he batted .176 with one RBI in April, .329 with nine homers and 20 RBIs in May.

He's at it again this year. Johnson homered in three straight games from April 5-7 and had his average above .300 untilApril 20. It is down to .238 and he has one homer since April 15.

"I'm getting the same pitches but I'm not really driving the ball. I'm hitting it off the end of the bat a lot. I'm not driving it off the meat part of the bat," he said.

"My timing's not good now. I've lost it."

As he usually does, Johnson has sought out hitting coach Terry Crowley. Together, they're trying to find a way for Johnson to remain patient and see the ball longer. By doing so, maybe it'll increase in size.

"Early on, the ball was kind of big, but it shrank up on me all of a sudden," he said.

Johnson insisted that his uncertain future with the Orioles hasn't been a hindrance. His contract expires after the season, and the club hasn't made a hard push to sign him to a long-term deal.

"I've been able to put it to the side," he said. "It really hasn't bothered me at all. ... I'm just going out and trying to play."

Bordick bounces back

Shortstop Mike Bordick moved up to second in the order. He escaped the ninth slot after escaping an injury the previous night.

Bordick jammed his right knee while completing an eighth-inning double play. He took a wide throw from first baseman Jeff Conine, who had made a leaping catch of a Derek Jeter line drive. Bordick beat Wilson Delgado to the bag, his foot coming down hard, and limped to the dugout.

"It's fine now," Bordick said yesterday while flexing the ankle. "Everything's intact."

Including his hitting streak. Bordick extended it to 10 games.

Hargrove on bullpen

Sitting at his desk yesterday morning, Hargrove joked that he "survived the night" following Friday's collapse, when the Orioles blew a 10-8 lead in the ninth inning and lost, 12-10, on a three-run homer by Jorge Posada off rookie B.J. Ryan.

Finally, he could smile.

Hargrove had pulled closer Mike Timlin after a leadoff homer by Paul O'Neill and a single by Bernie Williams. Timlin clearly was bothered by being removed, though he chose his words carefully after the game.

"I'm sure he didn't like it. I didn't like having to do it," Hargrove said, adding that he didn't broach the subject with Timlin yesterday.

"For us to be as good as we can be, Mike Timlin needs to be our closer. ... To that end, it was a very difficult decision [Friday]. It's not something I wanted to do or want to do again. But I felt at that time he hadn't really established his turf as the closer yet this year."

Hargrove also said he wasn't going to "redefine" anyone's role in the bullpen.

"It's the first of May and we've got a lot of time to play," he said. "The people we have in their roles have been successful there in the past and have been successful at various times this year. I think we all have to be patient and allow them a chance to work their way out of this. Certainly, there's a fine line between being patient and being foolish, but I don't think we've reached that time yet."

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