Surhoff set to reacquaint himself at third Versatile newcomer was regular there in '93

Orioles notebook

February 20, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- B. J. Surhoff didn't play a game at third base last year, but he arrived at the Orioles' spring training camp yesterday confident that he'll be ready to play there full-time by the start of the season.

"I think I can play there," said Surhoff. "That was one spot I didn't get to last year, so I'll have to reacquaint myself with it, but I think a lot of it comes with experience."

Surhoff also can catch and play the outfield and likely will show up as the designated hitter on occasion, but the Orioles acquired the left-handed hitter to replace the Leo Gomez/Jeff Manto platoon at third. It isn't exactly unfamiliar territory. He played regularly at third for much of the 1993 season with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Manager Davey Johnson has other options. He could play Bobby Bonilla or one of the utility infield candidates at third, but Plan A is to get Surhoff as much playing time as possible at third this spring.

"I'm going to give Bobby sometime over there," Johnson said, "but I'm counting on B. J. getting most of the time over there."

Surhoff isn't particular. He and veteran players such as Tony Phillips have proven that a multi-position role can be as important -- and productive -- as a full-time job at a single position. He batted .320 with 13 home runs and 73 RBIs last year, while appearing in 55 games at first base, 60 games in the outfield and three games as a designated hitter.

"If it keeps me in the first nine, I don't really care," Surhoff said. "The only thing that I'm not looking forward to is getting behind the plate, but they've got their catcher under contract, so I'm not concerned about that happening.

"Would I do it if all hell broke loose? Sure," he said. "Would I play as many games? Probably not. The big thing for me is I get to play more if I don't catch. It just takes a larger toll on you."

McDowell sore

Newly acquired reliever Roger McDowell is experiencing some shoulder soreness and may have to cut back on his throwing schedule for a few days, but Johnson does not seem overly concerned.

"It's a little tenderness," Johnson said. "He goes through it every spring. He's a good athlete. He knows what he needs to do."

Variety show

Johnson indicated that he will use players at unlikely positions during spring training to familiarize himself with personnel and to experiment with the roster.

For instance, he said yesterday that outfielder Brady Anderson may show up some as the DH because he has nothing to prove this spring in the outfield.

Also coming soon to a spring training lineup: Jeffrey Hammonds and Mike Devereaux at first base.

"It's not that I need anybody [at first base], but I like to have backups at all the positions."

Crime watch

Reserve catcher Gregg Zaun woke up yesterday to find that his car had been broken into. Someone stole his golf clubs and cellular phone, among other things, and put him in a foul mood.

"I was real upset this morning," Zaun said, "but if there's somebody out there pathetic enough to need my golf clubs, what can you do?"

Rhodes hearing

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes missed yesterday's workout to attend his salary arbitration hearing in New York.

General manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone also attended the hearing, in which the team was represented by club counsel Russell Smouse.

Rhodes, who made $275,000 last year, is looking for a 245 percent raise to $675,000 after a 2-5 season that ended with shoulder surgery.

A capsule look at the six nonroster position players invited to camp with the Orioles:

Jimmy Foster, catcher: He played at Single-A Frederick last season, batting .261. Brought in to help work with pitchers and get a taste of the big leagues.

Kris Gresham, catcher: He's the top catcher in the organization who hasn't been in the majors. He played in Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A a year ago, in a total of 73 games.

Bill Ripken, infielder: Needs no introduction. Returns to the organization for the first time since being let go after the 1992 season.

Greg Blosser, outfielder: Former No. 1 pick of the Boston Red Sox, this slugger never really blossomed. At age 25, he has an outside shot of making the team because the Orioles are looking for left-handed power.

Jarvis Brown, outfielder: Brown, 28, played in 18 games with the Orioles last year. Good outfielder, great throwing arm, but he always has been held back by his bat (.203 average in 227 major-league at-bats).

Joe Hall, outfielder: He has bounced around professional ball for years, getting a total of 43 at-bats in 24 games. He's a long shot, but it's not as if he's battling a long list of incumbents for bench jobs.

Buster Olney

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