Not only did the Orioles lose their regular third baseman in Friday night's game -- they also lost one of his backups.
B. J. Surhoff, who sprained his ankle on a strange play, was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday, along with utility man Jeff Huson, who somehow injured his left knee after he pinch ran for Surhoff.
To replace Surhoff and Huson on their roster, the Orioles called up outfielder Mark Smith from Triple-A Rochester and right-hander Esteban Yan from Double-A Bowie.
Surhoff was running to first base on a grounder hit to the left of Seattle second baseman Joey Cora in the sixth inning, when Cora's off-balance throw drilled him in the left ear. Surhoff, staggered by the throw, stepped awkwardly and turned his ankle inward.
"They tell me those are slower to heal," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson. "He had some [internal] bleeding and it was swollen."
The Orioles really don't know how long Surhoff will be out; Johnson said an early estimate is that Surhoff will be ready about the time he's eligible to come off the DL.
Huson pinch ran for Surhoff, and sometime before he was pulled for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning -- he thinks it might've been when he stopped suddenly while playing third base -- he suffered some trauma to his knee. When he woke up yesterday, Huson's knee was stiff and swollen.
"I'm pretty sure I have torn cartilage," Huson said before the game. "If it's torn cartilage, it looks like I'll be out three weeks, but it might be something with my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]."
However, Huson had a magnetic resonance imaging exam last night, which showed no tear in his ACL. Huson said doctors want to wait for the swelling in his knee to go down before determining the next course of action. If it is torn cartilage, Huson will undergo arthroscopic surgery and could be out three weeks.
Bobby Bonilla started at third base last night, but he may return to the outfield, with Bill Ripken and Manny Alexander getting opportunities at third base.
Smith was batting .359 in 31 games for Rochester, with seven homers and 23 RBIs, and he was 8-for-8 in steals. Yan, acquired from the Montreal Expos in April, had a 5.63 ERA in nine games for Bowie, allowing 18 hits and eight walks and striking out 15 in 16 innings.
"It's better than sitting in Toledo," Smith said, "no offense to people in Toledo. . . . I think every player wants to get to the big leagues, and I'm one of those guys who believes he deserves to be here."
Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone indicated that Yan was a "short-term" solution to the club's need for pitching. "He's got good stuff," said Malone.
New batch of balls used
Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks will watch the Orioles' games with heightened interest in the immediate future. The Orioles have used up their allotment of Rawlings balls stored in green boxes, and are now using balls, stored in black boxes, that were shipped to them this spring.
"The feel is different," Hendricks said, "but, of course, they're going to deny that."
Hendricks wonders whether the newer balls, which appear less lively, will make for fewer runs. Something to keep an eye on.
Johnson: Striking difference
The collective earned run average in the AL is almost a run higher than in the NL (5.10 to 4.18). One difference between the leagues, Johnson is sure, is the strike zone.
"They seem to have a lot more pitches [thrown] over here," said Johnson, who managed for years in the NL. "I don't know if it is just the way it is over here or what. Yeah, [the strike zone] appears to be smaller. Every ump is different -- they have their own interpretation of the strike zone.
"Because of the number of pitches, I find it hard to believe everybody is not trying to throw it over. One hundred pitches usually gets you to the seventh or eighth inning over there. Over here, you're lucky to get five innings."
Benitez sits, then pitches
Armando Benitez was supposed to make his first rehabilitation appearance for Double-A Bowie on Friday night, but his name was left off the official lineup card. He warmed up and was prepared to pitch, but umpires would not allow him in the game.
Benitez stayed with the Baysox, and pitched two innings last night, allowing two hits and one earned run with three strikeouts.
Ripken error reversed
A ground ball that Cal Ripken dropped as he tried to make a backhand play Friday night, a ball hit by Jay Buhner in the eighth inning, originally was scored an error. That call was changed yesterday to a hit, saving Ripken his sixth error and creating three earned runs for Roger McDowell.
Scott Erickson played catch for the first time since spraining his ankle last Monday, and says he's getting better every day.
"I feel 20 times better today than a few days ago," Erickson said. "Four days ago, I felt like it was broken, it hurt so bad. I keep getting better every day. Hopefully, I'll get better quick enough."
Around the horn
Brady Anderson, coming back from a strained quadriceps muscle, started at designated hitter, with Mike Devereaux in center field. . . . Keith Shepherd was moved to the Rochester starting rotation, as he requested. . . . Erickson has become involved in the statewide "Schools Now" program to help raise nearly $1 million for schools through the sale of coupon books.
Pub Date: 5/19/96