Anderson hopes to fit into Orioles plan Shows improvement after trip to AAA


Always, the words are promise and potential.

Since he was acquired in the Mike Boddicker trade with the Boston Red Sox in 1988, Brady Anderson has been touted for his defense, his speed and his versatility.

"I like Brady," Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates said last night. "He can do a lot of things."

But the emergence of Chito Martinez's home-run bat and Luis Mercedes' possibilities as the leadoff man and aggressive playing style have applied more pressure to Anderson to do the one thing he never has done here . . . hit consistently.

If Martinez and Mercedes continue to flourish, he may have to this time.

"I can't worry about what other players are doing," said Anderson. "I'm glad they're doing well, but I have to be concerned with my own performance, if I'm playing the way I should."

For the moment, he is doing that. After a trip to Class AAA Rochester, he has returned to go 8-for-18 (.444) with four walks. In his first stint with the Orioles, Anderson batted .191.

"I've just started to relax," he said. "I knew I was going down [Aug. 21] because I wasn't swinging the bat. But I really didn't change anything. I'm still looking for one good pitch."

Anderson echoed the players' refrain -- that consistent action improved his results. He said the outcome was the same last season after he returned from rehabilitation assignment.

"It was nice to get 35 plate appearances in a row," he said. "Sometimes, when you get four at-bats a week, you get too pumped up. It helps not to have to place too much emphasis on one."

There has never been any knock on Anderson's defense, but sometimes he has been obstinate about doing things his way at the plate.

"Sometimes, you have to be patient," said Oates. "He has struggled at times, but done well at others."

"I'll be going along hitting the ball pretty good, then throw in a 3-for-30," said Anderson. "But the most disappointing thing to me is the amount of strikeouts I've had in the majors [203 in 1,047 official at-bats].

"In the last 100 at-bats or so, I haven't been striking out. To me, that's progress. I feel better mentally about it."

Whether that, his glove and his legs will be enough to help him stem off the onslaught of the newcomers for playing time is something debatable.

"He has to be on the right club," said Oates. "Brady is a leadoff, No. 2 hitter and he has to be in an outfield where a couple of other guys produce.

"Take two other guys and him in our outfield and you might not get 100 RBI."

Anderson said he believes Oates knows "I can help this team. I have a role and can help on defense, pinch-running."

Like Steve Finley, who departed in the Glenn Davis trade last season, Anderson's skills appear more suited for turf. Playing in Houston's Astrodome, Finley is thriving at the plate, batting .293.

Despite a career average of .215, Anderson's on-base percentage is respectable enough at around .330. It isn't admirable for a leadoff man, but it shows a willingness to walk despite his disclaimer that "you never try to get a walk. They are incidental to hitting."

Sometimes, he doesn't take enough pitches to suit the staff but he said "I walk more than anyone expects [36 this season]."

Oates will not say what the outfield picture might be next spring, but there is no indication that Anderson is out of it.

"We're doing a lot of evaluating right now," said the manager. "There is a lot of puzzle fitting going on."

For now, Anderson is one of the pieces.

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