Johnson expects Anderson to get time in left, center Other center fielders struggling with defense

THE BALTIMORE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Orioles manager Davey Johnson is in a quandary.

His best center fielder and his best left fielder is the same person Brady Anderson.

Expect Anderson to turn up in both places this season.

Anderson is a fixture in left at Camden Yards, but his speed and athleticism have landed him in center for much of the spring. He could turn up at either spot when April rolls around, depending on where the Orioles are playing.

"Brady has all the tools," Johnson said. "I've asked Brady about the different ballparks in the American League. Some of the tougher fields are in left field. For me, Brady is my best left fielder and my best center fielder. He's my best leadoff hitter."

Center field has been a sore spot for the Orioles this spring when Anderson isn't there.

Jeffrey Hammonds and Tony Tarasco misjudged balls there yesterday, costing the Orioles two runs, and Manny Alexander botched a ball in center on Tuesday. The wind has been whipping through Fort Lauderdale Stadium, with even Marlins Gold Glove center fielder Devon White losing balls. But Johnson is not accepting excuses.

"I'm not real pleased with the way we're catching the ball in center," Johnson said. "Our center fielders have to improve on their fielding. The wind is tough but we've got to make those plays."

Weathers talk cools

The Orioles' discussions with the Marlins about pitcher David Weathers has hit a snag.

Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone met with da general manager Dave Dombrowski during yesterday's game, and Malone said the Marlins are not sure if they want to trade or keep the 26-year-old right-hander.

But, there is a possibility that talks could heat up soon.

"They're meeting [today] to see if he's going to make their club," Malone said. "We're not sure if he's going to be available or not. If they make a decision that he's available, we told them to let us know."

Weathers worked just one inning yesterday, walking two, striking out one and giving up one run on Chris Hoiles' double. Weathers began the sixth inning by throwing eight straight balls and he might have been in more trouble if not for a double play.

Johnson saw a lot of Weathers in the National League while he was managing Cincinnati. Weathers has thrown more career innings against the Reds than any other team. He is 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA against the Reds, but 15-20 with a 5.48 ERA overall in his major-league career.

Backup catcher wanted

The Orioles are still looking to acquire the other item on general manager Pat Gillick's wish list a backup catcher with options, which means he can be sent to the minor leagues without having to clear waivers.

Gillick is also considering keeping three catchers on the roster, likely Chris Hoiles, Gregg Zaun and Cesar Devarez, and not making a deal.

"We might end up with another catcher by the end of the week," Gillick said. "There are at least five catchers out there that we're looking at. It's a bit of a problem."

Mills awaits cortisone result

Right-handed reliever Alan Mills is back in Florida after being examined by Dr. Michael Jacobs, the team orthopedist, in Baltimore on Monday.

Mills received a cortisone shot for his sore shoulder and will not throw for at least eight more days.

"Basically, what [Dr. Jacobs] said is that if he hit the right spot [with the cortisone], everything should be taken care of," Mills said. "He hit the spot, so hopefully I'll be back in Baltimore soon. The needle was so big, I didn't want to see it. I thought it was going to come out of my arm pit. Hopefully, [the shot] will take care if it."

Soon is a relative term. It is unlikely Mills will be pitching for the Orioles for at least three weeks. Mills has a history of pushing himself too hard when coming off injuries and he vows to change his ways this time. He pitched just 23 innings with the Orioles last year before his injured right shoulder ended his season in June. Mills underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in late August.

Percibal expects surgery

Pitching prospect Billy Percibal returned to Fort Lauderdale after spending Tuesday in Alabama being checked out by Dr. James Andrews.

Andrews will speak with Jacobs today to determine if the 22-year-old will need season-ending surgery on his pitching elbow.

"It looks like I'm going to have the surgery with Andrews next week," said Percibal, who added that he won't throw again this season.

Malone said there is a possibility that Percibal, who has a 29-16 record and a 3.62 ERA in four minor-league seasons, can be brought along slowly with treatment, avoiding surgery and a lost season. The injury does not appear as severe as it did earlier this week, when reconstructive surgery seemed imminent, Malone said.

However, both doctors would have to agree that treatment is the best solution before the Orioles would pursue that option.

Around the horn

Alexander celebrated his 25th birthday by starting a triple play in the third inning yesterday, and Hoiles hit a two-run homer in the second inning on his 31st birthday yesterday. . . . David Wells (2-1, 5.25) is the Orioles' scheduled starter for today's game against the Dodgers in Vero Beach. Tom Candiotti will go for Los Angeles.

Pub Date: 3/21/96

Ups and downs

Highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' 6-5 victory over the Florida Marlins yesterday:

Ups

Outfielder Mark Smith hit a game winning two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was Smith's first homer of the spring.

The Orioles turned a 5-4-3 triple play in the second inning and four double plays in the game.

Chris Hoiles hit his second homer of the spring in the second inning and drove in his third run of the game with a two-out double in the sixth to tie the game at four.

Jeffrey Hammonds hit his second spring homer in the fifth, a shot to deep left field.

Downs

Rick Krivda was shaky in relief, giving-up one run on four hits in two innings of work. The Orioles' defense saved another run for Krivda. Terry Pendleton and Greg Colbrunn whacked back-to-back doubles in the sixth, but right fielder Tony Tarasco relayed the ball to Roberto Alomar, who threw home in time to get Pendleton at the plate.

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