Surhoff drops as order shuffled

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Bordick up, DeShields down with OF slumping

May 14, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Cal Ripken's absence yesterday brought the expected change in the lineup, but manager Mike Hargrove took it a little further.

Besides inserting Mark Lewis at third base again, which had been expected, Hargrove also dropped left fielder B.J. Surhoff from third to sixth in the order for the first time this season. Surhoff's spot was filled by Delino DeShields, who has been hitting second. DeShields hadn't batted third since May 29, 1996.

With his club opposing a left-hander, Boston's Jeff Fassero, Hargrove decided to juggle his personnel. He elevated shortstop Mike Bordick from ninth to second and put Rich Amaral in right field and at the bottom of the order, with Albert Belle serving as DH.

He also was looking for a way to shake Surhoff out of his slump. Surhoff has only 11 hits in his last 71 at-bats.

"It gives him a chance to catch his breath some," Hargrove said Of Surhoff, who has baseball's longest active consecutive-games streak at 360. "A left-hander's throwing and it just seemed to make sense. It gives him a break.

"He's still in an RBI position. It's not like he's dropping off the face of the earth. It's just a change for him."

Surhoff went 0-for-3 with a walk to lower his average to .257. Hargrove said he wasn't certain how long he would stay with the new alignment. "With Cal out Of the lineup ... we'll just take it a game at a time," he said. "We scored a lot of runs with the lineup the way it was originally. I'm not keen on having radical change in the lineup if it's producing."

Hargrove pulled Surhoff into his office before the game to alert him of the switch. "He just said he wanted to make a change. I'm fine with that," Surhoff said.

With Brady Anderson, Bordick and DeShields representing the upper third of the order, Hargrove was able to cram some speed at the top. "It gives us a different look," he said.

Hargrove said he hasn't received any updates on Ripken's condition. Ripken underwent a magnetic resonance imaging on Friday because of nerve irritation in the same region that forced him to have lower-back surgery in September. He'll miss his third straight game today and could wind up on the disabled list.

Raving about Pedro

Hargrove couldn't recall seeing a better pitching performance than the one turned in by Boston's Pedro Martinez on Friday.

Martinez, last year' s Cy Young Award winner, improved to 6-1 by shutting out the Orioles on two hits. Carving them up with precision, he didn't walk a batter and struck out 15.

"I don't know if there's a pitcher I faced who could compare to this guy," Hargrove said. "Here's a guy who throws the ball as hard as Nolan Ryan. He has command of his pitches and locates his pitches like Catfish Hunter and Ferguson Jenkins used to. Those are probably three of the best I ever faced.

"He doesn't cheat like Gaylord Perry."

Lewis roots for Ripken

Lewis made his sixth start with the Orioles yesterday. With Ripken being out, Lewis welcomes the opportunities but not the cause.

"I don't like to see anybody get hurt, especially Cal," he said. "He's had such a great career and he's such a great player. Everybody enjoys watching him play. I enjoy watching him play. I'll just do the best I can until he feels better."

Lewis has played third, short-stop and second since being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on April 27. All three of his hits before yesterday had been doubles. He broke that streak with a seventh-inning single.

When Lewis plays, Ryan Minor sits. It's an odd vantage point for Minor, who in the past has filled in for Ripken when baseball's Iron Man ended his consecutive-games streak and has been injured.

Hargrove said on Friday that Lewis would be the starter at third base since he was added to the roster, in part, to serve as Ripken's backup. But after yesterday's game, Hargrove indicated he'll begin playing Minor more.

Once seen as the heir apparent to Ripken, Minor is here only because of an injury to Will Clark.

"[Hargrove's] looking at it long term. Mark's going to be the backup here and I'll probably be back down in Triple-A. You want to keep the guys who are going to be here sharp," Minor said.

Around the horn

The Orioles activated catcher Willie Morales from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Triple-A Rochester. Morales, 2-for-8 in two games with the Orioles, had been sidelined with a hyperextended left elbow. ... Red Sox manager Jimy Williams eliminated his DH in the eighth inning when he moved Mike Stanley to first base. Reliever Derek Lowe, who inherited the cleanup spot, was allowed to bat in the ninth and struck out looking against Mike Timlin. ... Chief Justice William Rehnquist was in attendance.

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