Anderson isn't bitter about exit

14-year Oriole wanted to stay, but he says he bears no hard feelings

Other teams are interested

`People want me to vent, but I don't have it in me'

November 25, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles chose not to keep outfielder Brady Anderson as an experienced piece of their rebuilding puzzle, letting him go six weeks after another fourth-place finish and one of his worst offensive seasons. Anderson chose to accept his fate, and the separation from an organization he never wanted to leave, without any bitterness.

Commenting for the first time on his release by the Orioles, Anderson said yesterday from California that he had no hard feelings about the end of a 14-year association with the club.

"I think a lot of people want me to vent anger or express something negative, but I just don't have it in me. That's not how I view things," he said.

"I guess there are some people who think it was a little bit unceremonious, someone who's been there 14 years. I don't look at it like that."

Anderson heard from agent Jeff Borris that there was "immediate interest" in his services once the Orioles cut him loose Nov. 16. Specific teams were not revealed, but the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies are believed to be among the clubs that might pursue him. Borris couldn't be reached yesterday.

Though he has a home in Lake Tahoe, Nev., and a girlfriend in Los Angeles, Anderson said geography won't necessarily influence where he wants to play next season. He's more concerned about his role, whether he's viewed as a starter or a fourth outfielder.

"I've always held the belief that it's an honor to play anywhere in the big leagues. I've never had that feeling that I wouldn't play here or I wouldn't play there. I'll play wherever I'm wanted," he said.

"I look forward to the newness of something else, but I loved playing in Baltimore. I always did whatever I could to stay there and I don't regret that. I genuinely appreciated the fan support through the years as well as the friendships with my teammates."

Needing space on their 40-man roster and committed to younger players, the Orioles had attempted to trade Anderson, who will earn $4 million in the final installment of a five-year, $31 million contract he signed after the 1997 season. They have a glut of outfielders, though Chris Richard is coming off shoulder surgery, and could add another through free agency while seeking more power for their lineup.

Rather than be influenced by sentiment, the Orioles severed their ties to a player who had been with them since a 1988 trade with Boston. A player who turns 38 in January and would have been the senior member of the team with the retirement of close friend Cal Ripken.

"Since the first day that I was there, he was cool with me," said Luis Matos, who spent parts of the past two seasons with the Orioles and could emerge as their Opening Day center fielder in 2002. "He went up to me and said, `I'm Brady.' I knew he was Brady. He asked my name and everything. After that, he always gave me good advice and talked to me about the game. He was a good teammate to me."

Matos, who will resume playing winter ball on Tuesday after being hit in the head by a pitch two weeks ago, says Anderson would have fit in nicely with the Orioles' youth movement.

"He would have been good for us because we have a lot of young outfielders," Matos said. "He could teach us, inside and outside the lines. I think with that part, he could have helped everybody."

Said Anderson: "I think the players who were in their first year in the big leagues relied fairly heavily on me for advice. I did enjoy that."

Disappointment came in his performance this season. Relinquishing his longtime role as leadoff hitter, Anderson needed a late surge to bring up his average to .202.

"I looked into it. I called the commissioner to see if I could petition to have it removed from my record," he joked. "There's a very fine line between success and failure at a high level. Even if I'm struggling technically at the plate, I'm usually athletic enough to pull myself out of it. But I was healthy, I felt good. I felt like at any time I was ready to break out."

Disputing the notion that he never sought help from hitting coach Terry Crowley, he added, "We talked about hitting all the time, but we know each other so well, I know what he wants me to do and I know what I should do. I probably spent like 90 days in the cage with him. To say I didn't work with Crow is inaccurate. It's also unfair to both of us to think he should have magically gotten me out of [the slump]."

Anderson said he's replayed in his mind parts of his last game with the Orioles on Oct. 6, especially his final at-bat with two outs in the ninth inning and Ripken standing on deck. Anderson swung through a high fastball with the count full, denying Ripken another plate appearance.

"I didn't think about it until probably the last four days of the season. I started wondering if it might be my last game also," Anderson said.

Confirmation arrived through Borris, who told Anderson of the Orioles' plans to waive him.

"I've been around enough that nothing in baseball shocks me," Anderson said. "When you first hear something like that, you think about what type of effect that change is going to have. As a pro athlete you're accustomed to quickly reassessing your position. I didn't spend much time wondering why or wishing I could change it. Your mind quickly goes, `OK, what now? What happens now?'

"The other day I was visualizing playing for a visiting team. I couldn't picture myself coming to the on-deck circle from that side of the dugout. It's like when I first got traded from the Red Sox, my first day in the big leagues with the Orioles, every time I'd look down at my shoes and I saw an orange sock, I'd do a double-take. I think most people should do a double-take when they look down and see an orange sock, but things like that are definitely going to be a little bit bizarre."

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