BOSTON -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson, on a pace to hit more than 50 homers, has shown early signs of appendicitis, and will miss three to six weeks if surgery is necessary.
Anderson went to a local hospital for tests before last night's 13-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox, and afterward, Orioles manager Davey Johnson received confirmation of what club trainers had suspected when Anderson was pained all day.
"Not a very good day," Johnson said.
Anderson said after last night's game that he probably was going to check into a hospital -- he wouldn't say which hospital -- for overnight observation.
"Fire away guys, before I die," Anderson joked to reporters, before leaving for the hospital.
Anderson played Thursday night in the Orioles' 6-3 victory over Boston, getting a hit in four at-bats. But he had trouble sleeping and had internal pains all night. Assuming he had contracted a stomach virus of some kind, Anderson said that all he could think about was how he had to get better, how he had to be ready to play.
After Anderson arrived at Fenway Park, he was scratched from the starting lineup and Johnson told reporters Anderson was suffering from a stomach virus. Already, however, team trainers suspected something worse, and Anderson went to a local hospital before the game for tests that indicated he is showing signs of appendicitis. After the game, he was examined by Red Sox team doctor Arthur Pappas.
Anderson said the physicians told him the problems could go away, or get could worse -- but he didn't sound optimistic. "It's going to have to be taken care of eventually," he said. "I don't think it's something that you get over, but I'm still hoping."
Anderson hit 31 homers in the first 95 games of the season, shattering his career high of 21 homers. At the All-Star break, he was the only major-leaguer with 30 homers, and he started in the All-Star Game for the American League.
He was asked how disappointing it would be if his dream season was interrupted by surgery. "What's the highest possible score?" he replied.
Surgery for Anderson would be a severe blow to the Orioles' fading playoff hopes. They are eight games out of first place in the AL East, and are already without second baseman Roberto Alomar, down with a sprained finger. Anderson has been the only consistent source of run production from their outfield this year.
If Anderson goes down, that may also factor in whether the Orioles decide to start dealing veteran players such as Bobby Bonilla, David Wells and Mike Devereaux before the July 31 trade deadline. Without Anderson, the Orioles might be more inclined to look ahead to 1997 and try to trade potential free agents for younger players.
Johnson said the Orioles probably wouldn't look to add a player from the minors until Sunday, if then, should Anderson be out for an extended period; Johnson said he is "still holding out hope" Anderson's problem will die down and he'll be able to play shortly.
Without Anderson in the lineup last night, the Orioles went from bad to worse in a hurry against the Red Sox. Former Orioles Jamie Moyer shut them out for 7 2/3 innings, Mo Vaughn drove in five runs and Jeff Frye scored five runs.
The Jeff Frye.
A long and torturous off-season is in store for the Orioles, should they miss the playoffs by a game or two. There will be nights in October and November when some Orioles will stare at the ceiling and mutter those two awful words.
Jeff Frye, as in small fry, as in minor-league retread. Jeff Frye, the Orioles killer. Twice this season he has been the key to Boston victories over the Orioles.
He had a couple of walks and two hits and scored five runs last night.
Frye was nine months shy of his 30th birthday when the Texas Rangers released him last December, and as a 5-foot-9 middle infielder with little power, hitting ability or versatility, he had a hard time catching on with another team. The Detroit Tigers ultimately gave him a chance, inviting him to spring training.
And so it came to pass that Frye was released out of training camp by the Tigers, destined to be the worst team in the majors. Frye signed a Triple-A contract with Texas, and was a part-time player with Oklahoma City. Included in his contract was a clause that would allow him to become a free agent if another major-league team expressed any interest in him, although there was no reason to think that would happen. He had just been released by the worst team in the majors.
But two months into the season the Red Sox were desperate for a second baseman, having released Luis Alicea and lost Wil Cordero to injury, and Boston manager Kevin Kennedy remembered a little second baseman who played for him in Texas. Jeff Frye signed with Boston June 5.
Frye hasn't done much more than terrorize the Orioles since then.
On July 7, the night before the All-Star break, he stepped in to bat against Orioles closer Randy Myers with two outs in the ninth inning and Boston trailing 5-4. Myers walked Frye, John Valentin singled, and Vaughn bashed a three-run homer that landed somewhere in the vicinity of Lutherville.
Johnson acknowledged the majesty of Vaughn's homer, and lamented what he called the biggest mistake of the game -- Myers' walk of Frye, who was hitting .224. The Orioles went into the All-Star break on the downer, and lost the first four games after the break to the New York Yankees.
The Orioles rebounded slightly, winning three of the last four games going into last night -- before they ran smack into the daunting figure of Frye, who sparked rallies in the first, third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Johnson said: "Maybe we had reason to pitch to him like Babe Ruth."
L Or Brady Anderson, the slugger the Orioles could be without.
Hits and misses
On the field: Manny Alexander was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and now is 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since taking over for Cal Ripken at shortstop.
In the dugout: The Orioles sold Jeff Manto to Japan during the off-season because they didn't think he had suitable range for a third baseman. But Manto has re-emerged with the Red Sox, and in true Boston fashion, as a shortstop; Manto is the temporary replacement for the injured John Valentin. He made a fine play in the seventh inning, diving to his right, and making the throw from the hole to deny Chris Hoiles of a hit.
In the clubhouse: Second baseman Jeff Huson ranged toward the stands in Thursday night's game and nearly tumbled into the first row of the Fenway Park stands, picking up a uniform full of cheese and a nacho chip in the process. "The fans there asked me if I was OK, which is unusual for these fans," Huson said.
Opponent: Boston Red Sox
Site: Fenway Park, Boston
Time: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Rocky Coppinger (5-0, 5.20) vs. Red Sox's Tim Wakefield (6-9, 6.45)
Pub Date: 7/20/96