- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

BALTIMORE Scott Erickson had waited 20 months for this, his return to pitching after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

While the Baltimore Orioles' ace didn't look completely like the pitcher who last appeared in a game July 25, 2000, he was more than happy to contribute to the Orioles' 10-3 Opening Day win over the New York Yankees yesterday.

"It was a long time doing nothing and just thinking about playing baseball," said Erickson, who allowed one unearned run and three hits but walked five in six innings. "It's been a long road back, but it felt pretty good to get back out there. I enjoyed it."

The 34-year-old right-hander endured a shaky first inning, when he walked three consecutive batters and watched as Derek Jeter stole third and scored on catcher Geronimo Gil's throwing error. But he got Robin Ventura to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. He then retired slugger Jason Giambi on a bases-loaded groundout in the fifth inning to escape serious trouble.

Despite missing a season-and-a-half because of the injury, Erickson outpitched six-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who was knocked out in the fifth inning after giving up eight runs. Unlikely result, considering Clemens won 20 games in 2001 while Erickson won 0.

"Yeah," Orioles designated hitter David Segui said, "but at 3 o'clock, they were both zero-game winners."

That's not Brady

Upon first entering the Orioles' clubhouse at Camden Yards, it wasn't all that surprising to see a player wearing No. 9 and standing by the far corner locker.

Until you remember that Brady Anderson is no longer with the Orioles and the player wearing No. 9 is Luis Garcia.

"They just gave it to me. I didn't ask for it," said Garcia, a 26-year-old rookie from Mexico who made Baltimore's Opening Day roster as the fifth outfielder.

Not only is Garcia wearing the same number Anderson had for 14 seasons, he also was issued one of Anderson's two lockers.

"I didn't know about the number, but a couple of guys told me that it was Brady Anderson's," Garcia said. "I have respect for all the guys who have played here."

Anderson's No. 9 might have been given away, but no one was going to come close to Cal Ripken's No. 8 or the Iron Man's locker space. Ripken's uniform number, of course, was retired at the end of last season. The three lockers he occupied in the Orioles clubhouse have been left vacant, except for a row of extra pants and jerseys.

Maduro's on track

Hargrove said right-hander Calvin Maduro, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained forearm, should be ready to make his first start Sunday. Rick Bauer, who is in the bullpen, would fill in if Maduro can't go.

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