In a move that could portend the Baltimore Orioles' future defense, Brady Anderson was moved to left field tonight, so the Orioles could take a look at center field prospect Eugene Kingsale.

Anderson, 35, who has played center field since 1996, last played left Oct. 1, 1995. However, the Orioles have been discussing moving Anderson to left since last winter, when they unsuccessfully pursued free agent Brian Jordan.

General Manager Frank Wren played down the long-term implications of tonight's move.

"We want to see one of our young players play some in the final month of the season," Wren said. "We feel like Kingsale has played well in center field, and we want to see him play out there in big league parks and see how he does."

Asked if he felt his days in center field are over, Anderson said: "Let's not jump to conclusions. . . . Do you want to break up what has been maybe the most productive outfield [offensively] in baseball?"

Anderson is having one of the finest offensive seasons of his career, bringing a .296 average and a career-best .419 on-base percentage into tonight's game. However, the Orioles feel he has lost range in the last year or two, and last month Manager Ray Miller said the Orioles need "to get someone in [center field] who can fly."

Kingsale, a 23-year-old with speed but raw offensive skills, will be out of minor league options after this season, and the Orioles are considering letting him play center field next season if he proves himself ready.

"We don't want to be in a situation like with Willis Otanez, where you have to wait until April to give him a chance because he's out of options," Miller said. "You'd rather play those people [in September] and make the evaluation of whether he can be an everyday player or a fourth outfielder, or if it's someone you want to [trade]."

Regular left fielder B.J. Surhoff was the designated hitter tonight. Depending on Cal Ripken's ability to play every day next season, Surhoff could be moved to third base if Kingsale earns the center field job.

Sympathetic Reaction

Asked about the plight of baseball's umpires, Miller said, "I have sympathy for anyone who might lose their job. . . . They're human and they have families." . . . Right-handed reliever Mike Fetters was activated from the disabled list.