MINNEAPOLIS -- His physical condition has improved, but Brady Anderson's batting average is still trying to shake a season-long depression caused at least in part by a strained shoulder. So Orioles manager Ray Miller last night dropped the center fielder from his traditional leadoff role to No. 7 in the order.
Miller, who made Anderson the eighth player to bat seventh, described the move as "a one-day thing" and hastened to lend his support to a player who has labored throughout the season.
"Now he might come up with a couple of guys on instead of dealing with the pressure of having to lead everything off," said Miller. "He can sit back and see a couple at-bats before he gets in there."
It didn't do him any good, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .063, with four hits, one home run and six RBIs in 63 at-bats.
He is 0-for-11 since returning from the disabled list Friday, but did punish two warning-track fly balls Saturday against Tampa Bay knuckleballer Dennis Springer.
Anderson learned of the move when he arrived at the Metrodome. He waved off questions before the game. Despite his offensive woes, Anderson had batted leadoff in all 15 of his starts before last night. Last night, Miller batted Roberto Alomar leadoff and he responded like the Anderson of recent years with a two-run homer.
In an 0-for-26 slide, Anderson already has endured strings of seven and four games without a hit. He suffered only one four-game drought last year.
"He has too much confidence in himself to let himself be buried by this," Miller said.
Last night represented a bittersweet experience for Miller. It was the first time he returned as manager to the place that shunned him during the 1986 season.
Miller compiled a 109-130 record during parts of 1985 and 1986. He was succeeded by Tom Kelly, who remains in Minnesota as the manager with the longest tenure with his present team.
"It's eerie," he said, "because this was your town and you don't have good feelings about it."
Miller doesn't carry many positive memories about his previous managerial experience. The Twins imploded under his stewardship and he suffered turbulent relationships with various Twin Cities media.
"We didn't have a real good club," he said.
Following Miller's departure, the Twins won a World Series in 1987. First, they acquired relievers Jeff Reardon and Juan Berenguer and left fielder Dan Gladden. All played central roles in the Twins' ascendance and eventual seven-game Series victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I don't want to take credit for what they did [winning the World Series in 1987]. Tom did an outstanding job. But I don't feel like I did a bad job," Miller said.
Willing to say goodbye
Miller has received permission to carry recent farmhand Vince Horsman as a batting practice pitcher and auxiliary coach. He had sought the left-hander's addition ever since he was released by Triple-A Rochester last week.
For Horsman, 32, recognition that his playing days were over was difficult at first but has since eased. He views the reassignment as the first step toward a coaching career and spurned an offer to return to the Taiwanese Major League to accept Miller's offer.
"I'm very proud of my major-league career and the time I spent as a player. But that's behind me now. I'm looking ahead," said Horsman, who spent parts of five seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland A's and Twins, compiling a 4-2 record and 4.07 ERA in 141 relief appearances.
Horsman had made six solid appearances at Rochester before receiving his release. When summoned to manager Marv Foley's office, Horsman initially believed he was being promoted to Baltimore. "I was surprised to say the least. But they had others they believed were more in their plans. I've been released four times and I guess it's time to read the writing on the wall."
Disabled reliever Terry Mathews was examined by trainer Richie Bancells yesterday and may resume throwing as soon as he receives clearance from Michael Jacobs, the club's orthopedic doctor. Mathews, disabled retroactive to April 30 because of an inflamed right wrist, is eligible to be activated on Friday. A more realistic time frame may be next week.
Mathews continues to wear a wrap on the wrist, which bothered him whenever he flexed it forward or backward. He has yet to throw since being disabled.
Around the horn
The Orioles will activate Scott Kamieniecki in time to make tonight's start, his first since being sidelined by a groin pull and inflamed elbow. To create roster room, the club is expected to return Nerio Rodriguez to Rochester. Rodriguez, ineffective at Triple-A before being promoted April 26 to replace Kamieniecki, has been bashed for eight hits and five runs in two appearances covering five innings. Twins rookie first baseman David Ortiz, who jumped from Single-A to the majors last season, was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured hamate bone in his right wrist. Shortstop Mike Bordick, who stole his first base of the season, is hitting .323 in his last 20 games, raising his average from .063 to .234.
Pub Date: 5/12/98