Surhoff coming to plate for seconds Batting in 2 hole today may get him extra swings

Orioles notebook

March 20, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

JUPITER, Fla. -- Orioles manager Ray Miller said he will bat left fielder B. J. Surhoff second today against Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chan Ho Park, the first time he has done so this spring.

"I'll get him some extra at-bats," Miller said.

Surhoff played in his sixth game yesterday, going 1-for-4 with a run scored in the Orioles' 5-3 victory over the Montreal Expos.

He injured the ring finger on his right hand in the Feb. 28 opener and didn't return to the lineup until Saturday.

Surhoff usually bats fifth or seventh in a talent-heavy order, but Miller has shown a willingness to tinker with the No. 2 slot. Earlier in the week, he said he might use Eric Davis there, even though the outfielder isn't the prototypical second hitter, enabling Roberto Alomar to drop to third.

Asked whether Surhoff could bat second during the year, depending on the opposing pitcher, Miller said, "I'd love to be able to do that."

"With men on base, he's not a panic guy. He's going to stay inside the ball. And certainly, you don't mind B. J. against lefties," Miller said.

Clyburn, Stull on 15-day DL

The Orioles placed outfielder Danny Clyburn and pitcher Everett Stull on the 15-day disabled list.

Clyburn broke a bone in his left foot while running the bases March 3. Stull had arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 18 to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. Both players are expected to wind up at Triple-A Rochester.

Any player who goes on the disabled list after March 1 must remain there at least six days into the regular season.

Fewer Charlton forkballs

The Orioles are confident they've solved one problem with reliever Norm Charlton, eliminating the left-hander's tendency to tip off his pitches.

But what about the eight earned runs he has allowed over seven innings, and the opposition's .364 batting average?

Also correctable, Miller said.

"He's got a nasty forkball, but he's been playing with it way too much. It's time to start throwing strike one and getting somebody out," Miller said.

"Really, the innings he's had have been off-the-end-of-the-bat bloops and all that, but it's because he's been throwing five straight forkballs after getting ahead."

Small ball; big results

Does a quiet camp make for an easier camp?

That's one of the more common questions being asked of Miller, who has used the time that comes with having a roster that's nearly set to continue preaching the importance of fundamentals. For the Orioles, a quiet camp is a more productive one.

"The focus has been on little things -- advancing the runners, bunt plays, base running, just trying to be a little bit better in all those things," Miller said.

"In the last two games against Florida, Robbie [Alomar] and E. D. [Eric Davis] twice got guys over with nobody out and a man at second. They gave themselves up to get the runner over, and I had to wait in line to shake their hands. That's the way baseball's supposed to be, and it's nice to see a veteran club really focus on the little things, superstars giving themselves up for the next guy. I think it's always been here and we've done it to a certain extent, but I don't think there's been that much thought put into it."

In recent days, Miller has successfully used the hit-and-run with Cal Ripken and Chris Hoiles batting, and has seen the Orioles steal a run by getting a good jump on a contact play. Miller reasons that such execution can be the difference in one game a month.

"In our division, six games [over the season] is a huge chunk," he said.

Yesterday, the initial failure to execute actually benefited the Orioles. Unable to lay down a bunt with runners on first and second and none out, Hoiles lined a two-run double to right-center field, giving the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Miller praises coaches

Miller continues to rave over the work of his coaches, especially new additions Mike Flanagan, Eddie Murray and Carlos Bernhardt.

Flanagan has replaced Miller as pitching coach, a job he held in 1995 under then-manager Phil Regan. Bernhardt will serve as first base coach, and Murray provides counsel from the dugout.

"I just think the chemistry is twice-fold what it was last year between staff and team," Miller said.

"When you add Murray and Flanagan to this staff, you're really adding some bright, positive people who enjoy the game. And Carlos has done a fantastic job of buffering the Latin part. And by that, I don't meaning kissing anybody's butt. I mean, [because of] lack of understanding or language barrier, heading off some things that never become anything because he's there to step in."

Miller has increased the responsibilities of bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, enabling him again to work with the catchers, a job former manager Davey Johnson had turned over to his bench coach, Andy Etchebarren.

"I think he's been pushed aside way too long," Miller said.

Pub Date: 3/20/98

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