CLEVELAND -- The wait continues for Brady Anderson.
Rather than hustle the center fielder onto the active roster, the Orioles will leave him on the disabled list for at least several more days to protect against another relapse of his strained shoulder.
The injury, largely responsible for Anderson's foundering offensive start (.077), was not aggravated by his participation in Monday night's exhibition against a team of Orioles' minor-leaguers, he said.
Anderson gave a cautious prognosis when pressed for a time frame, describing the injury as "something that could bother me all year. It could be. I don't know. I really don't know."
The injury, a sprained sternoclavicular joint -- the ligament connecting the sternum and the collarbone -- causes Anderson pain when he tries to fully extend through the ball.
"The first seven days on the disabled list it didn't get better at all. The last seven days it's seemed to improve some. But there's nothing magical about two weeks that means I'm ready to come back after 15 days," said Anderson, who was eligible to come off the DL yesterday. "I don't want to return to the situation I was in before. That defeats the purpose of going on [the disabled list] in the first place."
Asked if he thought Anderson would return on the current seven-game road trip, manager Ray Miller called it "a jump ball."
"He's improved back to whatever," Miller said, "but do I want him to go back into the same situation?"
Still swinging with less than full vigor, Anderson took early batting practice yesterday, will do so again today, then rest on Thursday's off day. He'll then resume batting practice Saturday when his situation may be re-evaluated. "I don't expect to be 100 percent when I come back. It's just a matter of how close I expect to be," Anderson said.
He is able to run and throw without discomfort. He stole a base and threw out a runner at the plate during Monday's exhibition, but bunted in two of three plate appearances. Anderson drove a single through the middle in his final plate appearance but admitted "I didn't swing any harder than during batting practice."
The Orioles remain concerned that a premature return would tempt Anderson to return to his slashing offensive style that worsened the original injury sustained on the season's first weekend.
Miller has encouraged his leadoff hitter to become more comfortable bunting and to shorten his swing. First, Anderson must break his addiction to power, something that has eluded him in the past.
Anderson's return also presents the Orioles with a difficult roster call: Do they retain 12 pitchers, as Miller prefers, or return Sidney Ponson to Rochester in order to keep three catchers? The state of his bullpen at the time will likely swing the decision.
"That'll probably be the biggest decision I have," Miller said.
Yesterday's decision was largely made after Sunday's game when Miller huddled with his coaches, general manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone. Anderson appeared Monday night only after promising Miller that he wouldn't swing. When not given that option in his third plate appearance, he swung, pushing the ball through the infield.
"I thought it was unfair of those guys. They all knew I wasn't allowed to hit so they played me close at the corners. They knew I was going to bunt or try to slap it around," quipped Anderson. "That shows bad sportsmanship on their part. But I was the MVP anyway."
Opponent: Cleveland Indians
Site: Jacobs Field, Cleveland
Time: 7: 35 TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: O's Scott Erickson (3-2, 5.56 ERA) vs. Indians' Dave Burba (2-3, 3.49 ERA)
Pub Date: 5/06/98