Surhoff instant hit in his return Back from finger injury, he shows he can throw, too

Orioles notebook

March 15, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Playing in his first game since the exhibition opener two weeks ago, Orioles outfielder B. J. Surhoff lined a run-scoring single to right field in the first inning. But in his mind, that wasn't all he needed to take from a 9-0 win over Montreal.

Surhoff wanted to see a lot of pitches, which he did. He wanted to run the bases, which he did. And he wanted to be tested in left field, which he was.

"I accomplished what I wanted to," he said after playing six innings and going 1-for-4. "I wasn't so concerned with the results."

They were positive, nonetheless.

"The first high fastball he gets, he drives in a run," said manager Ray Miller. "Sometimes, you forget how valuable a player he is until you don't have him. When you have him, your depth goes tenfold."

Surhoff had been out since injuring a ligament in the ring finger of his right hand while diving back to first base against Los Angeles. He took batting practice for the first time on Wednesday, staying in Fort Lauderdale while the Orioles went to Fort Myers to play Boston.

"You get in the cage against pitchers for the first time, you feel like you have no chance because it's batting practice and you're not really into it. You get in a game and all of a sudden a switch turns on and somehow you're able to catch up," he said.

Surhoff wore a protective device yesterday that kept the ring and middle fingers together when he was on the bases, and could be slipped off when he batted or played in the field.

"There was no pain. There hasn't been any in a good while," he said.

Surhoff eased his own concerns about throwing the ball in the fifth inning when he charged into the left-field corner to cut off the ball and fired a throw to second to hold Raul Chavez to a single.

"I've been throwing for about a week. That's one thing I really didn't want to lose," he said.

"That's the type of play I'm going to have to make during the year. It was 9-0 so it wasn't that important, but if it's a one-run game or a two-run game, that might be an important play sometime."

Said Miller: "Getting the ball and getting it to second base, he's as good as anybody I've ever seen."

Miller said Surhoff won't start today against New York Mets left-hander Brian Bohanon in Port St. Lucie, but will get into the game.

Easy five for Drabek

Right-hander Doug Drabek became the latest Orioles starter to be sent to the bullpen, doing some extra throwing after coming in under his pitch limit. Drabek needed only 56 to tear through the Expos during five scoreless innings, 19 fewer than the cutoff point.

Signed as a free agent to settle the fifth starter's spot, Drabek allowed three hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out two. In his previous start, he posted four shutout innings against Minnesota in Fort Myers, and has walked only one batter in three outings.

"The last couple of years, especially in spring training, I was still trying things, working on things. This year, it's been a little different as far as feeling a little better out there and having some things work," said Drabek, who has thrown 102 pitches over his last nine innings.

"It's nice just to go out there and throw and not worry about anything, and then if you want to work on something on the side, go ahead."

Drabek didn't use his sinker very often yesterday, staying instead with his fastball and curveball because they were working.

An MRI performed on the right elbow of Jim Foster on Friday didn't reveal any structural damage, and the Orioles catcher has been told not to throw for the next three or four days. Informed by doctors that he has a mild strain, Foster can continue swinging the bat and should be healthy in two to three weeks.

"The doctors said it looked good. It just needs a little rest right now," he said. "I've been getting treatment and it feels like it's getting better every day."

Foster, who drove in 110 runs at three levels of the minor leagues last season, said his elbow began to bother him in early November while playing in the Arizona Fall League. He was examined on Dec. 1 by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and told he needed six to eight weeks to recuperate.

"I had to come back in about 6 1/2 to start getting ready for spring training," Foster said, "so I kind of rushed into it a little bit. My arm hasn't had a chance to catch up."

Subsequently, Foster hasn't had much of a chance to catch. He was behind the plate for three innings against Los Angeles; otherwise, he's been restricted to playing first and pinch hitting.

"I've been wanting to, but I'm trying to use my head a little bit," he said.

"My arm's not sore, it just gets fatigued quickly. I can throw, but I can't finish. I get to 80, 85 percent and I stay there. You can't throw the ball if you're not 100 percent."

Snyder still little woozy

A day after being hit on the forehead by a batting practice line drive, pitcher Matt Snyder was told that he has a mild concussion. He complained of feeling pain whenever he "bounced around" and wanted to avoid doing any running. Now, he could get the next few days off.

"I think my brain just needs to rest," said Snyder, who has a small cut near his hairline. "Hopefully, tomorrow it'll be all right."

It could have been much worse. Snyder never saw the ball coming, turning to look only after hearing someone yell 'heads up.'

"I guess there's a lot to be said for having a hard noggin," he said.

Around the horn

Harold Baines made Montreal pay for a botched double play with a two-run single in the first. Eric Davis has a team-high 15 RBIs.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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