Odd timing, isn't it, that Brady Anderson gets inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame yesterday, just a few days after the team's center field situation was thrown into chaos yet again by an injury to Jerry Hairston? Since Anderson last started there for the Orioles, on June 24, 2001, the team has started no fewer than 13 center fielders, and still has no idea who will be out there on Opening Day 2005.
Could it be Anderson?
That's right, the venerable sideburned one is talking comeback at the age of 40, a year and a half since he last played professionally for the San Diego Padres' Class AAA affiliate in Portland, Ore., two full years since he last appeared in the majors for the Cleveland Indians and three years since he last wore an Orioles uniform -- striking out against Boston's Ugueth Urbina on Oct. 6, 2001, to end Cal Ripken's final game with Ripken in the on-deck circle.
"If I got the same opportunity to do what I did in Portland, and go play again and try to work my way back to the majors, I would definitely consider it," Anderson said by phone from his California home. "Whether I do it or not, I don't know. But I'm interested."
Anderson, who owns the only 50-homer season in Orioles history, took this season off in part because he wanted to spend time with his daughter, Brianna, who turned 1 this month. True to his workout-freak nature, he has been staying in top shape through various training methods, including, for a time, playing in an elite flag football league and running with top sprinters at the University of California-Irvine.
Anderson's last taste of baseball was a good one, at least in terms of his on-field performance. He was hitting .294 with a .455 on-base percentage for Portland when the Padres decided they needed to give playing time to their younger prospects, and released him.
"If I was playing with the Padres this year, instead of last year, I wouldn't have gotten released -- because they're contending," he said. "That's one of the reasons I want to play again."
As for the question of whether Anderson might actually be starting for the Orioles next Opening Day, it's highly unlikely, of course. But there wouldn't be much harm in giving Anderson a minor league contract and seeing what he can do.
"I don't even know if I could even address that now," Orioles General Manager Jim Beattie said when asked about Anderson. "We would have to sit back and see where we stand. But the idea certainly has a good amount of appeal."
But there's one more problem.
"I want to avoid spring training at all costs," Anderson said with a laugh. "Those are six weeks of training I don't need. Why do you think I quit? I mean, you can only stand 17 years of watching pitchers practicing covering first base."
Yankees' Sixth Man Out?
With their pitching rotation back at full strength following the return of Mike Mussina, the New York Yankees have been going with a six-man rotation lately and might actually turn around and trade right-hander Esteban Loaiza, whom they acquired only three weeks ago to provide depth. Texas reportedly has strong interest.
"We're not trying to move him,'' Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters. "We're not trying to move anybody right now. But, if we get calls from someone expressing interest, and it makes sense, then we could do something."
The Yankees might be wise to hang onto Loaiza. He's not going to beat anybody's ace in October, but with Mussina coming off an arm injury, Kevin Brown coming off a back injury and Orlando Hernandez pitching over his head right now, the Yankees may find it pays off to have such depth.
New Arizona Diamondbacks chief executive Jeff Moorad -- who actually does not officially take over until Jan. 1 and who still must be approved by league owners -- gave a lukewarm endorsement to General Manager Joe Garagiola. "Joe's the GM," Moorad told reporters.
Meantime, Moorad's critics have dug up this quote from him following the 1994 players' strike: "The fans care about the game. The players care about the game. The owners don't care about either. What they care about is grabbing more money and more power over the national pastime." . . .
In heaping praise upon veteran Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez last week, following Martinez's announcement that he would be retiring after the season, some of my colleagues went overboard in proclaiming Martinez the best (or "most feared") right-handed hitter of his generation.
That distinction, of course, goes to Albert Belle. . . .
Among the notable call-ups expected in September is St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Rick Ankiel, who has been working his way back to the majors on a minor-league rehab assignment following elbow ligament replacement surgery in July 2003. Ankiel, whose career started falling apart with an acute bout of wildness in the 2000 playoffs, is still only 25 years old. . . .
Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa defused a potentially volatile situation by phoning Manager Dusty Baker to suggest Baker drop him to fifth in the lineup. Baker had been contemplating the same move, but for political reasons needed Sosa's approval. . . .
The San Francisco Giants' playoff hopes took a huge blow when ace Jason Schmidt suffered a strained groin that forced him to miss one start already. Tuesday will be a big day -- that's when Schmidt is scheduled to start again. . . .
Wondering the identities of those 13 players who have started in center field for the Orioles since Anderson? They are Larry Bigbie, Delino DeShields, Karim Garcia, Luis Garcia, Hairston, Willie Harris, Matos, Gary Matthews Jr., Darnell McDonald, Melvin Mora, Tim Raines Jr., Chris Richard and Chris Singleton.