Do-it-all Surhoff aims to continue success here Free-agent-to-be wants to re-sign with Orioles

Orioles sidelight

May 31, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Two nights ago, Orioles left fielder B. J. Surhoff demoralized Aaron Sele and the Texas Rangers with a three-run home run in the first inning.

Four times this season he has crushed the opposition by throwing runners out at home plate.

During the past 11 games, Surhoff has hit .410 with two home runs and eight RBIs.

He is tied with Rafael Palmeiro for the team lead in RBIs with 39 and began the night fifth in the league in outfield assists with six.

All season, the 33-year-old left fielder has been solid.

"When you're a manager and write his name down in the lineup, you feel very secure," said manager Ray Miller. "He's the consummate pro and a vastly underrated outfielder. He cuts balls off down the line, in the gap, hits more than .400 with the bases loaded [.448 in his career with 134 RBIs], he can bunt or hit a home run."

And last night, Surhoff said he wants to continue his career in an Orioles uniform next season.

"We've talked [contract] some," said Surhoff, whose three-year deal ends this season. "I have no idea if I'll be back. Hopefully, I'll be here. I've been comfortable here the last two seasons, and we've made the playoffs. But I can't worry about next year. I can't control the team."

Some of the reasons Surhoff wants to return to Baltimore are "it's close to where I grew up [Bronx, N.Y., and Rye, N.Y.], close to where I went to school [North Carolina] and I love coming to this park every day playing in front of all these fans.

"It's better than playing somewhere else in 30-degree weather with 1,700 fans in the stands and being 22 games back in last place," Surhoff said. "We have a chance to win every game here."

And his wife, the former Polly Winde, is from Howard County and is a member of the Maryland Swimming Hall of Fame.

Surhoff said he hasn't been consumed by the team's early-season problems, preferring to believe the team will turn it around as it did in 1996 and make the playoffs.

"This reminds me so much of two years ago when we had some problems early, then got our bullpen straightened out and came back to get the wild card," Surhoff said.

Surhoff has settled into the sixth spot in the batting order, which suits him just fine.

"Early in my career it would bother me if I wasn't hitting a certain place in the order," he said. "But now I'm pretty comfortable anywhere I hit."

Surhoff is third in hitting on the Orioles at .296, trailing only Harold Baines (.318) and Roberto Alomar (.307). He also is third on the team in home runs with seven.

"I didn't know I was swinging that good [.410] lately," he said. "I had some good and bad days at the plate on the last road trip. I think I'm doing a better job now with the balls I've been getting."

Always one of the first Orioles players to arrive at the park, the driven outfielder spent a lot of time in the training room yesterday.

But he said there was nothing seriously wrong with him.

"Just the normal bumps and bruises," he said. "They are always going to be there. You have to learn which ones you can play with and which ones you can't."

Surhoff said he was fortunate to pick up a lot of important tips on playing the game from "two of the best" in Milwaukee.

"I learned a lot from watching Robin Yount and Paul Molitor play," he said. "But as far as your daily work habits are concerned, it is something that a player must want to do on his own. You never know everything about the game and must keep on learning."

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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