Finger keeps Surhoff sitting Reboulet's elbow allows him to field, not bat

Orioles notebook

coach Murray ejected

March 03, 1998|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- No longer a spring picture of health, the Orioles will do without left fielder B. J. Surhoff for at least the next several days after he was diagnosed with a sprained ring finger on his right hand. Surhoff sustained the injury diving back to first base in Saturday's exhibition opener. He has been told by team trainers to refrain from throwing or swinging a bat.

Surhoff classified the injury as "not a huge deal" and left the clubhouse with his middle two fingers taped.

Surhoff is a fitness devotee, but is not among those who crave exhibition at-bats. Even before the sprain, Surhoff had told manager Ray Miller he was content to receive 60 plate appearances.

"From that standpoint, this wasn't the worst time for it to happen," said Miller, who will use nonroster outfielder Jesus Tavarez and trade candidate Tony Tarasco in his place. "It gives us a chance to see what Tavarez can do or to show Tarasco."

Yesterday's news was better than expected for utility infielder Jeff Reboulet, who was hit on the left elbow Sunday by New York Mets reliever Jae Weong Seo. Initial fears that Reboulet may have suffered a fracture were allayed when X-rays were negative. He instead was diagnosed with a soft tissue bruise. Reboulet participated in fielding drills yesterday but was told to refrain from hitting.

Murray given the thumb

So what if it's only spring training? To Eddie Murray, there are principles worth standing for regardless of setting.

Incensed over a called third strike against outfielder Danny Clyburn in the sixth inning of yesterday's 11-9 win over the Montreal Expos, Murray was tossed by American League umpire Ken Kaiser. Murray, coaching just his third game, never rose from his dugout seat to protest the call but was easily pinpointed.

"He recognized my voice," said Murray, who admits to having a long-standing problem with the veteran umpire.

"Here's a young guy up there having a heck of an at-bat working on some things and this man is going to take the at-bat away from him. That's not right," said Murray, of the 3-2 pitch that Kaiser called a strike.

Tavarez turning heads

On a team with supposedly no room for surprises, Tavarez may force the Orioles to adjust their thinking. The switch-hitting outfielder was signed as a minor-league free agent after the Boston Red Sox chose not to keep him on their 40-man roster.

Hitless in three at-bats yesterday, Tavarez, 27, has consistently driven the ball while giving the Orioles capable defense in either left or right field. With Tarasco considered a virtual lock to open the season with another club, Tavarez is fighting for the sixth outfielder's berth. The role is significant given the age of Eric Davis (35), Brady Anderson (34), Surhoff (33) and Joe Carter (38 next Saturday).

"He's got some ability," said Miller, who first saw Tavarez in 1994 as a Florida Marlin while serving as Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach. "He can run and he can switch-hit. I love switch-hitters and what they can do for your bench."

Deep sixth

The Expos sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth, which seemed impressive until the Orioles shuttled 12 up there in the bottom half of the inning.

Miller used three relievers in the inning, and not by design. Right-hander Kevin Gallaher, who got the last two outs in the fifth to rescue Billy Percibal, hit Chris Widger to open the inning and uncorked a wild pitch. He walked Orlando Cabrera and fell behind 1-0 to Tony Jones before Miller summoned right-hander Gabe Molina.

Molina, who pitched at Single-A Delmarva last season and was brought to camp because of injuries, couldn't get an out. He threw three straight balls to Jones, then issued bases-loaded walks to Darond Stovall (on four pitches) and Jose Vidro (on five).

Enter left-hander Vince Horsman, who also is here because of injuries. Horsman fell behind 2-0 to Brad Fullmer before the Expos first baseman singled to increase Montreal's lead to 7-5. Shane Andrews then came close to decapitating Horsman with a line drive into center that made it 8-5, and a double-play ball from Lee Tinsley scored Montreal's ninth run.

Percibal walked three and allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Miller and pitching coach Mike Flanagan wore a path between the dugout and the mound.

"Both teams had young pitchers overthrowing and pressing and making their major-league debuts. That's all part of it," Miller said.

Too good to pass up

Miller said after Sunday's win over the New York Mets that he planned on giving Carter the next day off because the veteran had played in the first two games. But with the Orioles clawing back yesterday, Miller couldn't resist.

Rather than have Jayson Werth bat in the sixth with the bases loaded, one out and the Orioles down 9-7, Miller sent up Carter.

Carter shattered his bat as he made contact against Expos reliever Steve Falteisek, but was able to muscle the ball to left field. His sacrifice fly was part of an onslaught that produced the Orioles' margin of victory. All six runs that inning were charged to Falteisek.

Around the horn

Norm Charlton on his Orioles debut of two shutout innings: "I felt great. I was able to throw the ball where I wanted. Get in and get it over with." Harold Baines was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Cal Ripken's double in the second inning scored the Orioles' first run. He's 3-for-4 with two doubles this spring. Scott Kamieniecki will oppose Minnesota's Frank Rodriguez today in Fort Lauderdale. The game will not be on radio.

Pub Date: 3/03/98

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