O's trying to bring Surhoff back in '04

Limited by injuries, veteran hit .295 last year

Baseball

December 06, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

As the deadline approaches for offering arbitration to their free agents, the Orioles are trying to re-sign outfielder B.J. Surhoff for the 2004 season.

Surhoff, 39, made the club out of spring training last year after signing a minor league deal. He batted .295 with five homers and 41 RBIs, but appeared in 93 games because of injuries.

Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan has spoken to Surhoff. Executive vice president Jim Beattie talked yesterday with Surhoff's agent, Gregg Clifton.

"We're going to continue talking about trying to get something done," Beattie said.

The Orioles are attempting to finalize the deal before tomorrow's arbitration deadline. Teams that don't offer arbitration to their free agents can't retain them until May 1.

Surhoff made 22 starts in left field, 20 at first base and 37 as the designated hitter. He went on the disabled list twice with hamstring and quadriceps injuries.

The Orioles don't project him as a starter next year, though that could change depending on how their roster shapes up.

"He can be a left-handed bat off the bench and play a couple positions," Beattie said. "It just depends on how healthy he is and what other guys do. If we have some guys who don't play as well next year, then maybe he gets more playing time."

Surhoff spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Orioles before they traded him to the Atlanta Braves in July 2000.

"Given his relationship with the Orioles and everything he did for us last year, we'd like to see if we can keep him in the loop," Beattie said. "He's been with the organization and if he wants to keep playing, we'd like to bring him into camp and see what we have, keep our options open as much as we can."

The Orioles appear willing to let their seven other free agents leave, including pitcher Scott Erickson and third baseman Tony Batista.

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