Surhoff, accustomed to role-playing, set to take over in left Man of many positions says he'll hold his own

Orioles notebook

February 24, 1997|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- B. J. Surhoff was once a shortstop. He was once a catcher, and a third baseman. He has played center field, right field, first base. He has been a designated hitter.

But Surhoff will be the Orioles' left fielder this season, and though he dabbles in the infield during workouts, he spends most of his time in the outfield.

Orioles bench coach Andy Etchebarren has known Surhoff for years, back to when both were in Milwaukee. "You give him time to get prepared out there and he'll be a pretty good outfielder," Etchebarren said last year. "He won't make many mistakes."

Surhoff said, "I feel I can hold my own. I'm not going out there to embarrass myself."

Surhoff spent hours taking grounders at third last spring, and the poor infield surface on the practice fields created a major challenge. In the same manner, Florida in March is great training ground. You have the sun, Surhoff explained, the high sky, the wind.

"You've got the whole gamut here to work with," Surhoff said, "other than the lights."

Johnson's jab

Orioles manager Davey Johnson apparently took a good-natured jab at former Oriole Bobby Bonilla while speaking at a charity breakfast here Saturday.

Reportedly, Johnson joked that with Bonilla at third base for the Florida Marlins, left fielder Moises Alou will be chasing a lot of balls that roll into the corner.

Johnson was asked if he actually made the remark.

"Who, me?" Johnson said, grinning. "Not me."

A traditionalist

Poor Phil Regan. Late in the 1995 season, a handful of pitchers on that staff began a regular game of Hacky Sack, kicking a little bag with their feet. For a manager in danger of losing his job, it must have been a disheartening sight, entirely contrary to all forms of tradition.

Somebody brought a Hacky Sack onto the field yesterday morning, and several pitchers began playing. Suddenly, another pitcher swooped in, grabbed the offending device, raced into the dugout and dunked the bag in the trash.

Mike Mussina is apparently a traditionalist, too.

Weight watchers

Johnson reiterated that he wants reliever Armando Benitez in better condition.

"I talked to him about getting in shape, and losing weight is a part of that," Johnson said. "So he's inside looking at exercise equipment."

Johnson is worried that Benitez's sore right knee is a result of his extra weight.

Starter Rocky Coppinger also came to camp a little heavy, and Johnson was asked whether David Wells presented a bad example for Coppinger last year, in the way he didn't condition himself properly.

"They were just good buddies," Johnson said. "I doubt Rocky went out and got three or four cartoon [tattoos] or something. Maybe some of [Wells'] conditioning you wouldn't want to copy, vTC but his mental toughness would be something [positive] for Rocky."

Around the horn

Johnson will look at Eric Davis and Mike Bordick, among others, to bat second in the lineup. Johnson spends more of his time watching the minor-leaguers and nonroster invitees working out than he does his major-leaguers. "I don't know these guys," said Johnson, referring to the minor-leaguers. Mussina will start the intrasquad game for one team tomorrow, followed by Rick Krivda, Jimmy Haynes, Francisco Saneaux and Julio Moreno. Shawn Boskie will start for the other team, followed by Brian Williams, Tom Davey, Giovanni Carrara and Brian Shouse.

Pitching coach Ray Miller, who may have 13 pitchers on his staff at the start of the regular season, remembers when Earl Weaver opened the 1978 season with eight pitchers. "I used to say to him, 'It's fine, but what if the starter is gone in the second inning?' " Miller said. Closer Randy Myers is expected to report in two days, and Miller said Myers will be ready to pitch in exhibition games in about four days. Myers will begin the year as the closer, although Johnson said Myers "pitched around people more than" he had seen before. Still, Johnson said, "I'd still be the most comfortable with Randy closing."

Johnson is trying to figure out his intrasquad lineup, something that requires a lot of consideration, he says. Players watch closely who is starting and who is not, to get a better read on their own chances of making the team. "They read into it more than you guys do," Johnson told reporters.

Spring break

What the Orioles did yesterday: They worked on rundown plays, the infielders performing almost flawlessly. Outfielder Eric Davis, serving as a runner, gave them a little trouble. Some pitchers threw batting practice, others -- such as Mike Mussina, who will start in the first intrasquad game tomorrow -- threw on the side.

What they'll do today: They're scheduled for more batting practice and rundown plays.

You know it's spring training when: The beginning of camp, for coaches, is a lot like New Year's Day; the coaches have made resolutions to get into better physical condition. After workouts, manager Davey Johnson, pitching coach Ray Miller and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks walk around the practice fields together.

Pub Date: 2/24/97

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