Anderson swings back into town as O's Hall of Famer

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Looking same, he feels he has a few homers left

Ainsworth has tendinitis

August 21, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko | Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The physical traits that once made him one of baseball's most feared leadoff hitters have not abandoned Brady Anderson.

Nor have his trademark sideburns.

Even at age 40, Anderson, who will become the 41st member of the Orioles Hall of Fame this weekend, looks every bit like the player who once set a club record by hitting 50 home runs in 1996. And apparently, he feels like it, too.

"I still feel like I can play," said Anderson, who will be inducted with the team's longtime umpires' attendant, Ernie Tyler, before today's game. "I don't miss the routine so much, but I feel like I shortchanged myself. ... [My career] definitely didn't end with me having the success I wanted, and that was frustrating. It makes me still want to play at times."

Anderson's 14-year tenure as one of the organization's most popular players ended when he was released in November 2001 after hitting .202. He's been out of baseball since the San Diego Padres waived him from their Triple-A affiliate last year.

Since then, the Orioles' all-time leader in steals (307) - he also ranked in the top five in hits (1,614), runs (1,044), doubles (329), home runs (209) and total bases (2,698) when released - is far removed from the game. Anderson assists in raising his 1-year-old daughter, Brianna, in California and stays in shape through rigorous workouts.

"I feel like this is a nice reward,"Anderson said. "I don't sit around and think about what I did in the past too much, but it's nice to be remembered that I had a good career."

Introduced at yesterday's luncheon at the Wyndham Hotel by close friend Cal Ripken, Anderson mixed self-reflection with some humor.

"I had a brief panic attack at home, wondering if anybody would show up for this," Anderson said. "It was sort of like that dream when you were walking around in public naked."

Allowing the laughter to subside, Anderson turned to Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, seated to his right, and said, "Jim Palmer is probably thinking to himself, `I love that dream.'"

The comment may have been payback for Palmer's suggestion this spring that Anderson's power surge in 1996 was open to scrutiny because it was such an aberration, and without drug testing, there's no way to know whether he used steroids.

Turning serious, Anderson called the steroid accusations about him "unfortunate."

"I think some baseball players get accused unfairly," he said. "I don't think you should get accused of steroids if you perform well. The numbers that say 65 to 70 percent [use steroids] are ridiculous. People will find that out when the test results come in."

Ainsworth hurt

Kurt Ainsworth most likely will be shut down for the rest of the season after receiving a diagnosis yesterday of tendinitis in his right arm.

Ainsworth made two rehab starts at short-season Single-A Aberdeen, allowing one earned run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"We'll treat it, and at this point it doesn't look like we'll run him back out there with two weeks left in the minor league season," said Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations. "We'll just try to calm it down and go from there."

Since the Orioles acquired him in the Sidney Ponson trade in July 2003, Ainsworth has been limited to 10 major league appearances because of injuries.

Fall ball

The Orioles have arranged for pitchers Adam Loewen, David Crouthers and Brian Forystek, outfielder Val Majewski, first baseman Mike Huggins and catcher Eli Whiteside to play for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.

Loewen, the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft, was promoted this week from low Single-A Delmarva to Single-A Frederick after going 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA, 52 walks and 82 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to start tomorrow.

Around the horn

Don Levinski, acquired from Florida last year in the Jeff Conine trade, will undergo surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He was 1-6 with a 6.48 ERA at Frederick. ... Jay Gibbons will read to children at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library on Cathedral Street at 11 a.m. today.

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