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For Brady, Gonzo, the wait is over


In the movie, Brady Anderson will be lounging on a couch in the opening scene, and Rene Gonzales will be talking on the phone.

The time will be last winter.

The place, an apartment in Irvine, Calif.

"Dude," Brady will say. "Let's work out."

"Dude," Gonzo will say. "Wait a minute."

The minute will turn into five minutes, and five minutes will turn into an hour. Brady, though, won't get upset. The next day, he might keep Gonzo waiting twice as long.

Ah, roommates.

"Bob Melvin was a good friend of ours, but we couldn't hang out with him," Anderson lamented this week, reflecting on the days when all three were Orioles.

"If he had to wait 30 seconds, he couldn't do it. But Gonzo and I," Anderson continued, with that faraway look in his eyes. "We could wait for each other hours each day."

This is the story of two kindred spirits, struggling baseball players who salvaged their careers by working out together all winter, on whatever schedule they desired.

If Hollywood truly wanted to capture California cool, it would stop making stupid movies like "Encino Man" and check out Brady and Gonzo, two of the coolest guys in baseball, if not the entire planet.

The time is right, for Brady is starring for the Orioles, Gonzo for the California Angels. Their reunion will take place tonight, when the two teams open a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Anderson, 28, already has set career-highs in homers (five), extra-base hits (20) and RBIs (29) -- in only 152 at-bats. Before this season, he had 10 career homers in 1,081 at-bats.

Gonzales, 30, also has set a career-high of five homers -- in only 76 at-bats. Before this season, he had six in 740 at-bats. His 13 walks match a career-high. His recent six-game hitting streak was another personal best.

"Thelma and Louise" was a hit.

"Brady and Gonzo" would be a monster.

"The greatest thing is, we're so alike," Anderson said. "We're both pretty laid-back."


And just plain late.

"They have absolutely no concept of time," sniffed Melvin, now with Kansas City. "In the offseason, I would imagine they don't even look at a clock.

"Not that that is the most important thing in the world," Melvin added, "but you have to have some guidelines for your day."

Allow Brady to explain.

"We always planned the night before what we were going to do," he said. "It's just that we never ever followed the plan."

Anyway, who cares?

Our heroes originally were going to live near the beach, but wound up in a two-bedroom apartment directly across the street from the University of California at Irvine.

Anderson is a guy whose idea of paradise is an all-night gym, so he thought the setup marvelous. He and Gonzo could walk to the weight room, or to the outdoor track.

They woke up.

They talked baseball.

They worked out.

"Basically, all we wanted to do was goof around," Anderson said. "But while we goof around, we're working out.

"If we went out running on the track, we'd take a football. And if we were working out in the weight room, one of us would say, 'How about a three-point contest over in the gym?' "

Both players are single, but that's how they spent most of their days, and sometimes even their nights. The way their careers were headed, they didn't have much choice.

Anderson, a .219 lifetime hitter, was preparing for perhaps his final chance in Baltimore. Gonzales, a .214 lifetime hitter, was a free agent until the Angels signed him to a Triple-A contract Jan. 10.

"I said, if I'm going to do it -- play every day, prove myself -- I'm going to do it now," said Gonzales, who is starting for California at second base after serving as a utility infielder for the Orioles from 1987-90 and Toronto in 1991.

Today Gonzo is hitting .316, Brady .286. They always talked about spending an offseason together, but Gonzales often would travel, playing baseball in Australia, bungee jumping in New Zealand, hanging out wherever.

Finally, last fall, Anderson said, "we're doing it, no matter what." Gonzales, an intense and diligent worker, did not need much convincing. "It was time to apply myself," he said.

They were perfect complements -- Gonzo pushed Brady in the weight room, Brady pushed Gonzo on the track. On the odd day at Cal-Irvine, they could even be seen throwing the javelin and putting the shot.

"Tomorrow, we'll do 100s," Brady would say.

"I'm not doing 100s," Gonzo would jokingly reply.

For a change, Anderson mostly steered clear of baseball -- he has a batting cage at home in Poway, Calif. -- but Gonzales frequently practiced his hitting on top of everything else.

Whatever they did, it worked.

"We're not just workout partners," Anderson said. "We'll be best friends our whole lives."

Roll the credits.

Can't beat that ending.

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