FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Major League Baseball Players Association director Donald Fehr said yesterday that the union still is looking into the tax dispute between Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson and the state of Maryland.
The state says that Anderson has been a Maryland resident the past three seasons and owes nearly $500,000 in back income taxes. Anderson maintains a home in Nevada and says he is not a Maryland resident.
"It's something we are investigating," said Fehr, who was at the Orioles' training facility for his annual spring meeting with Orioles players. "We have been battling this around the country."
Fehr didn't comment on the merits of the case but said the union wants to make sure players are treated the same way as other citizens who work in one state and live in another.
"Pro athletes are selected because they are easy to pick out," he said. "We just want to make sure that this is handled fairly."
No disputing O's losses
The players union has taken a skeptical view of Major League Baseball's claim that most clubs are losing money, but Fehr did not take issue with Orioles owner Peter Angelos' claim that the TC club lost $4 million to $5 million last year.
"The Orioles don't have any related-party contracts, so there are less questions," Fehr said. "The long and short of it is, I am confident Peter will be able to manage his affairs in a manner that is satisfactory to him.
"I have no question about Peter's ability to run a good franchise."
Utility infield candidate Kelly Gruber returned to the exhibition lineup yesterday after more than a week on the sidelines with a strained hamstring, but went hitless in two at-bats.
"I finally got him back in there," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "I've got to get him some playing time."
Gruber, who had fusion surgery two years ago for a herniated disk in his neck and hasn't played in three years, says he isn't worried about results right now. But the 0-fer left him hitless in his first 15 spring at-bats. He has to be considered a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, especially if Johnson goes with an enlarged pitching staff.
The alternative may be to start the season at Triple-A Rochester, but Gruber said recently that he won't consider that until he has given himself every opportunity to make the major-league club.
Reliever Armando Benitez gave Johnson a scare when he limped off the field after pitching another scoreless inning yesterday.
"I thought it was his knee," Johnson said.
It turned out to be an inflamed toenail.
Hammonds still hammering
Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds doubled in two at-bats yesterday, raising his spring average to .364.
Hammonds is playing with a bruised right wrist, the result of an errant throw by former Oriole catcher Gregg Zaun last week, but he ranks third on the club with appearances in 13 games this spring.
The Orioles and the city of Fort Lauderdale wined and dined a group of Florida legislators yesterday, hoping to persuade them to allocate funds to refurbish and expand the Fort Lauderdale complex.
The city would like to upgrade the facility with about $14 million of improvements and sign the Orioles to a long-term lease.
Outfielder Jerome Walton continues to have problems with an abdominal strain and will not make the two-day trip to Fort Myers and Sarasota. Johnson said that Walton likely will be sidelined three or four more days.
Tony Tarasco, who has been hobbled by a sore quadriceps muscle, struck out in his only at-bat yesterday, so he was not forced to run. He said yesterday, however, that he has run full speed with the injury without any further inflammation.
What the Orioles did yesterday: They were overpowered by the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-2, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fifth-starter candidates Rick Krivda, Shawn Boskie and Scott Kamieniecki all appeared, but only Kamieniecki pitched well.
You know it's spring when: Major League Baseball Players Association chief Donald Fehr visits each camp to brief the players on union business. In addition to the Brady Anderson tax case, Fehr also discussed the recently signed labor agreement and some marketing issues during the lengthy meeting.
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Site: Fort Myers, Fla.
Time: 1: 05 p.m.
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina vs. Twins' Scott Aldred
Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Site: Sarasota, Fla.
Time: 1: 05 p.m.
Starters: Orioles' Rocky Coppinger vs. White Sox's Mike Bertotti
Pub Date: 3/16/97