Surhoff to elbow way back onto field

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Tendinitis easing, he targets return to outfield

March 23, 2000|By Roch Kubatko and Peter Schmuck | Roch Kubatko and Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Orioles left fielder B. J. Surhoff could slip on a glove again as early as today, when the club plays the Montreal Expos in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Surhoff said he could have played the field last night against the New York Mets, but he served as designated hitter because the Mets wanted to use one. Surhoff hadn't appeared in a game since being used as DH in Fort Myers on March 14 because of tendinitis in his right elbow. His most recent start in left field came March 10.

Manager Mike Hargrove said it's possible Surhoff could be kept from the field until tomorrow to give the elbow an extra day's rest, even though today is the "target date."

"I think it's more realistic that he'll be ready to go Friday rather than Thursday, but we'll just wait and see," Hargrove said. "It's one of those things where you'd rather he came back a day late than a day early."

Surhoff, who has been throwing the past few days, seemed convinced his chance will arrive today.

"It's coming along pretty well," said Surhoff, who was 1-for-3 with a single last night. "I feel like I could be playing the field now, but the Mets wanted a DH to get some extra at-bats, because they've had a couple guys banged up. So, we'll take advantage of it one more day and then, hopefully, be in the field [today]. It's feeling better and better. Hopefully, they took care of what was wrong.

"You're not going to know anything until I get in a game, when you have to make that rushed throw and that adrenaline's flowing and you have to make that snap throw. That's when I felt it before, on the snap. Hopefully it's gone."

Surhoff said the club was more cautious with his injury because of the timing. "You approach it differently in the spring than you would during the season. You're trying to get ready for April 3, not March 26. You have to keep that in mind. Fortunately, I've been playing for a while. It's harder for kids trying to make the team, and they have to push it a little. I can take my time. I know what I have to do to get ready."

Another third of the outfield, Brady Anderson, also is drawing closer to a return. Anderson played at the club's minor-league camp in Sarasota, Fla., going 2-for-7 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base. He's been sidelined with a nerve irritation in his left leg that has caused numbness in his foot. His last start in center field occurred March 10.

The outlook is just as promising for Jeff Conine, who hasn't played in the field since March 8 because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff. Conine, who has recovered from a severe bout of the flu that cost him about nine pounds in two days, has been restricted to DH duty but could return to first base or the outfield today or tomorrow.

What about third base, the experimental position where Conine made one start -- and one throwing error -- before receiving a cortisone shot and being shut down?

"I'd probably be a little reluctant to run him back at third base right off the bat," Hargrove said.

Casual discussions

Orioles officials have talked with the Anaheim Angels about the availability of marquee outfielder Jim Edmonds, but it is obvious to both clubs that there is little possibility of a deal.

The contact, according to a source close to the situation, was a low-level, feel-out inquiry. The Angels apparently would consider a deal only if the Orioles parted with a quality pitcher, someone on the level of Sidney Ponson or top prospect Matt Riley. The Orioles apparently discussed lesser pitching talent, and that was that.

Viva Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Convention and Tourist Bureau will try again to bring together representatives of six Grapefruit League teams for a summit aimed at creating a new spring training circuit in and around the gambling mecca.

The meeting, originally scheduled for earlier this month, has been rescheduled for Monday.

The Orioles are one of the six teams under consideration, though they have indicated that they would prefer to remain in South Florida. Orioles executives met this week with city and stadium officials from Fort Lauderdale to discuss their year-to-year status at the Fort Lauderdale Stadium complex they currently inhabit.

The club hopes to move its minor-league operation within driving distance of the major-league camp next year and would like to eventually move into a complex large enough to house both the major- and minor-league camps.

Extra arms

The Orioles have borrowed two pitchers from their minor-league camp to accompany them for the next few days.

Right-handers John Stephens and Josh Towers will provide some insurance in case the club runs out of pitchers. Stephens has developed into an intriguing prospect after going 10-8 with a 3.22 ERA, four complete games and 217 strikeouts at Single-A Delmarva. He was named the Orioles' minor league Pitcher of the Year.

Towers was 12-7 with a 3.76 ERA at Double-A Bowie. Known for his impeccable control, Towers walked 26 and struck out 106 in 189 innings.

Staying put

It's good to be king.

The Orioles will play split-squad games on Saturday, with one group remaining in Fort Lauderdale to face the Los Angeles Dodgers and another group traveling to Jupiter to face the St. Louis Cardinals.

Asked which club he'll manage, Hargrove said, "The one that doesn't have to go anyplace."

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