ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson may not be all the way back, but he is back on the active roster.
The Orioles took Anderson off the 15-day disabled list yesterday and he entered last night's game as a middle-inning replacement for banged-up Jeffrey Hammonds. He is expected to start against Tampa Bay tonight.
The move was made concurrently with the unusual loss of left-handed reliever Doug Johns, who was placed on the disabled list with what club officials described as a chronic case of insomnia.
Johns is undergoing treatment under the club's employee assistance program. He remained behind in Baltimore when the club traveled to Cleveland, and the decision was made to take him off the active roster when doctors asked for more time to help him overcome the problem.
Anderson has been on the disabled list with a sprained sternoclavicular joint -- the point where the shoulder blade and the breastbone meet. He doesn't claim to be back at full strength, but he took batting practice for an extended period Tuesday and Wednesday and told manager Ray Miller he was feeling no unusual discomfort.
"He hit the ball real hard," Miller said before last night's game. "I was told if I watched him hit and he was OK, I could activate him. We'll start him tomorrow and see how his strength is after that."
His services were required sooner than anticipated, when Miller removed Hammonds in the sixth inning. Anderson played the rest of the game and went hitless with a walk in two plate appearances.
"It was great to get out there," he said. "It was almost as fun as the Bowie game."
Of course, if Anderson had gotten his way, he never would have gone on the disabled list. He has played through a series of injuries that would have put other players on the DL, but finally agreed on April 20 to come off the active roster and give the injury a better chance to heal.
"It feels better than it did two weeks ago," Anderson said. "The first seven days, it didn't feel any better, so I was kind of discouraged. For a while, you think it's just going to stay injured for months."
Not yet 100 percent, Anderson is ready to play.
"It's a good time to come off," he said. "I'm tired of watching."
He did not start last night against left-hander Tony Saunders and may not start tomorrow when the Devil Rays start left-handed ace Wilson Alvarez. Miller said that he wants to move cautiously.
"We'll [go slow] for this series," Miller said, "and see where we're at. I've got a feeling he's going to watch three innings in this ballpark and tell me he's feeling pretty good. He wanted to play a couple of days ago."
Though the decision to put Anderson on the disabled list created some temporary friction with Miller, Anderson all but conceded afterward that it was the right thing to do. He was struggling badly at the plate (.077) and there was little question that the injury was contributing to his poor start.
That doesn't mean he was happy to be sidelined during most of VTC the club's lengthy slump, but it could have been worse. He could have been brought down by an injury that prevented him from staying in shape, which would have extended his time on the disabled list.
"Luckily, it was an injury where I could continue to run and train," Anderson said. "B. J. Surhoff was telling me that it's a lot worse when you can't do that stuff. I did what I could to stay in shape. I wasn't moping around."
Pub Date: 5/09/98