Surhoff, Anderson returns prove to be less than painful

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Left fielder's right arm feels `fine'

center fielder gets in swings at Sarasota

March 24, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- B. J. Surhoff had few words for his return to left field yesterday. The ones he chose, however, were encouraging.

Playing in the field for the first time since March 10, Surhoff lasted all nine innings and didn't report any discomfort in his right elbow in the Orioles' 7-1 loss to the Montreal Expos. He also went 1-for-4 with a double in the sixth inning, the last of five hits collected by the Orioles.

"My arm felt fine," said Surhoff, who has been bothered by tendinitis. "I didn't really have to test it today. I made a couple throws and it felt all right."

Meanwhile, Jeff Conine will start at first base today against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. He hasn't played in the field since March 8 because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff.

Another injured Oriole, center fielder Brady Anderson, went 4-for-8 with a double and a triple in a Triple-A game at the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla. In between at-bats, Anderson went to an adjoining field, where he was 2-for-3 with a double in a Double-A game.

The report on Anderson given to club officials stated that he ran better yesterday than the previous day and hit the ball hard six times.

Anderson hasn't played for the Orioles because of a nerve irritation in his left leg that has caused numbness in his foot. His last start in center field occurred March 10.

Conine took grounders at third base during batting practice and said he's ready to do more than just hit. He threw to first without any pain, though he didn't put the usual zip on them.

"I felt great," he said. "I probably made around 20 throws and it was fine. I think my status is full-go from here."

Manager Mike Hargrove said on Wednesday that he would be "reluctant" to put Conine at third base right away, choosing instead to ease him back into a position he never had played until getting into four games there last season.

"That's probably a good idea," Conine said. "I haven't really thrown from a whole lot of angles."

Ryan crunches numbers

If reliever B.J. Ryan is going to be evaluated this spring, he hopes the numbers aren't taken into account.

Especially the ones accumulated in the ninth inning.

Ryan, who will join Chuck McElroy and Buddy Groom as the bullpen's left-handed trifecta this season, lowered his ERA to 5.63 in eight innings by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam Wednesday night in Port St. Lucie. He gave up a leadoff single in the sixth and walked two batters before getting a double-play grounder.

His escape act continued what has been an uneven spring. Ryan has allowed all seven of his runs, along with eight hits, in the three games he's entered in the ninth. In four other appearances, he's given up no runs and four hits in five innings. For Ryan, who had pitched in one major-league game until joining the Orioles on Aug. 27, the discrepancy is puzzling.

"I used to just love pitching the ninth," he said. "That's what I did coming up in the minors. It seemed like I'd be in a situation where I had to make one big pitch. Last year and the year before that, I was always able to do it. This spring, I just haven't made that one pitch."

Overall, Ryan has allowed 12 hits and walked four this spring. Opponents are batting .353 against him.

"The numbers might not show it," he said, "but I'm progressing well."

Ryan conceded, however, that he's still trying to find a groove. Pitching coach Sammy Ellis tinkered with the pitcher's mechanics on Tuesday, "and if felt good," Ryan said.

McElroy gets stretched

Before McElroy took the field in the morning, he wondered if his left arm would be dragging behind him.

McElroy was stretched to the limit Wednesday during a controlled game at the club's minor-league complex in Sarasota. He went three innings, his most extensive duty thus far. He threw 57 pitches. He emptied his bag of tricks.

There wasn't much left in the tank, either.

"I don't know whether I'm sore from throwing or driving," he said, grinning.

"Actually, it went well. I can't complain. I accomplished a lot. I was able to throw breaking balls behind in the count and ahead in the count. I was throwing all my pitches. I broke out everything, which is good."

The Triple-A hitters he faced weren't shy. Unlike the batters he's accustomed to challenging, they chased anything in the general vicinity of the plate.

"They don't take many pitches. They were up there hacking. They don't care where the ball is," he said.

Davis working, waiting

When the Orioles made their second round of cuts before Tuesday's game, the ax missed catcher Tommy Davis, who remains in uniform but without a hope of accompanying the team to Baltimore.

Davis is getting everything out of camp that he wanted, and he wasn't asking for much.

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