BOWIE -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson was in the lineup last night, and under strict orders.
On the disabled list since April 20 with a strained right shoulder, Anderson was allowed to start in the club's exhibition game against a collection of its minor-leaguers. But Ray Miller insisted that Anderson do nothing except bunt. No hacking allowed, the manager said, or there would be trouble.
Yeah, right. Anderson held out for two at-bats, bunting to the mound and third base, then singled with a hard grounder up the middle in the sixth inning of the Orioles' 7-4 loss before a record crowd of 14,316 at Prince George's Stadium. Eligible to come off the DL today, Anderson's fate won't be decided until Miller sees him take batting practice before tonight's game in Cleveland.
Miller said he didn't anticipate Anderson being ready to return "unless he's got a secret deal I don't know about. He tells me he's still a ways away. We'll have to wait and talk about it. Just because he got a base hit up the middle doesn't mean he can swing at a 96-mph fastball. But maybe he could. I don't know."
Anderson already had gotten in some swings earlier, clearing the fence three times while taking live batting practice for the first time since going on the DL. He stole second after reaching against Single-A pitcher Chad Paronto, and also threw out a runner at home.
The game also included the first meaningful work for pitcher Scott Kamieniecki since being placed on the disabled list April 26 with a strained groin and inflamed right elbow. Kamieniecki, due to return Sunday and start two nights later in Minnesota, threw 33 pitches in three scoreless innings.
Miller said he wanted Anderson in the lineup "just to see some pitches and go play in the outfield." He tried making a defensive switch in the third inning, but Anderson left the dugout and waved his substitute off the field, sticking around through the sixth. He also got clearance from Miller to swing away in his final at-bat.
"He stayed out there longer than he was supposed to. He ran back out there. We had a deal," Miller said.
"He said he'd kind of like to go up one more time and just swing easy. After that, I said, 'There's nothing left to do except hit a home run and you're not going to do that. Get out of here.' "
Having been restricted to hitting off a tee the past two days, Anderson took 30 cuts in the cage against Double-A Bowie manager Joe Ferguson before the game. He didn't swing with full force but made solid contact. For a player dogged by an .077 average and a variety of injuries this year, including a chipped bone in his left hand, it was progress.
"It felt all right. It was about what I expected. If I couldn't even do that, that would be ridiculous," he said.
Kamieniecki's three innings were largely uneventful except for when he stuck out his bare hand trying to stop a hard bouncer from leadoff hitter Darrell Dent in the first inning. Luckily, he missed. Shortstop Mike Bordick didn't, fielding the ball behind second base and making the throw to get Dent by a half-step.
Jerry Hairston followed with a single to center. Kamieniecki retired the next seven batters, striking out two, before Dent tripled with two outs in the third.
"It surprised me to be that sharp," Kamieniecki said. "I threw all my pitches, all of them over the plate. After the long layoff, I tried to keep my thoughts away from the injuries and concentrate on pitching. Mentally, I was strong. I felt great.
"It's a starting step, though. I've got to see how I come up the xTC next couple of days and keep working. The first test went well, but it was only three innings. I've got to do some running, get back in the swing of things. You can't just jump in and do everything you want. You have to build up to it, throw enough to where you can go out and start and give them six, seven, eight innings."
The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Jeff Reboulet led off with a single and scored on a double to right-center by Bordick. Catcher Charlie Greene poked a single to right, and Bordick came home when Roberto Alomar hit into a double play.
Richard Bauer, who pitches at Single-A Delmarva, replaced Kamieniecki in the fourth and served up a two-run homer to Double-A Bowie's Ryan Minor, the ball glancing off the bottom of the scoreboard in left-center field.
Dent, a speedster at Single-A Frederick, almost broke the tie in the fifth with a single up the middle, but Anderson cut down Roberto Rivera at the plate. Dent took second on the throw and scored on a single to right by Hairston, a shortstop at Frederick.
Hairston broke the game open in the sixth with a three-run double off Bowie left-hander Radhames Dykhoff. Lenny Webster fouled out with the bases loaded to end the Orioles' comeback.
Greene and Reboulet were the only Orioles to play the entire game. Reboulet started at second, with Alomar serving as the designated hitter, and later replaced Bordick at shortstop. Greene caught and played first base.
"I'm glad it's over," Miller said. "It's not a lot of fun for a big-league manager. We've just been through heck. You've got only one reliever you can use and you've got outfielders playing with beat-up legs, and you're trying to win ballgames. You finally get a day off where you can rest everybody, and you've got to go play a game.
"I understand the PR part of it and it was great for everybody here. But the people who are mad now because players won't stop and sign autographs don't realize we won't get into Cleveland until midnight, and then there will be 55,000 people there wanting our [butts]."
Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Site: Jacobs Field, Cleveland
Time: 7: 05 p.m.
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Jimmy Key (4-1, 2.95) vs. Indians' Jaret Wright (1-2, 6.23)
Pub Date: 5/05/98