- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2003

B.J. Surhoff is a Baltimore Oriole again, and he's coming back to play.
The free agent outfielder agreed to a minor league contract with the Orioles yesterday, confident not only that he would make the team out of spring training but that he will stay healthy and contribute.
Surhoff, 38, missed nearly all of last season with the Atlanta Braves after he tore the ACL in his right knee in April. Intent on finishing his career on his terms, he wanted to come back to Baltimore, where he played from 1996 until he was traded in July2000.
Surhoff will earn $1million if he makes the team, $600,000 more in bonuses if he remains on the roster the whole season and $400,000 more if he reaches 500 plate appearances or 120 games.
"I really feel like I have proven myself in that league and don't need to prove myself all over again," said Surhoff, who still lives in Cockeysville, Md. "I don't feel my skill level has diminished. … If my knee does hold up to the rigors of the spring, then I will be on the team and contributing. I'm under the impression that they brought me here to play and play well."
A 16-year veteran, Surhoff did play well during his last stint in Baltimore, recording the best season of his career in 1999 when he hit .308 with 28 home runs and 107 RBI. He became the third player in Orioles history to record 200-plus hits in a season.
In 2000, he was dealt to Atlanta in a trade deadline deal. In his last full season with the Braves, he hit .271 with 58 RBI in 141 games. He played 25 games before the knee injury last season.
As Surhoff said, the main question this spring is how his knee will hold up. He has increased his activity level in the last month and has been playing basketball at Cal Ripken's gym for the past three weeks without any problems, which has built his confidence in the stability of the knee.
Surhoff is most comfortable playing left field and right field but also can back up first base. If needed, he said he could play some third base as well. Surhoff provides options, but the Orioles already have several outfield and first base options, from Jeff Conine to David Segui at first base to Jay Gibbons, Marty Cordova, Melvin Mora and Chris Richard in the outfield.
If Surhoff plays well in spring training, the Orioles will have to trade or move at least one of the other players or choose not to take Surhoff, who reiterated his intentions yesterday.
"[Playing] every other day doesn't sound too good to me. My goal is to be healthy to play every game," Surhoff said. "I'm planning on playing. I conveyed to [the Orioles], first thing I told them I'm looking for is to play. I wasn't really looking to come in in a backup role."
Meanwhile, the Orioles also agreed to a one-year, $1.55million contract with second baseman Jerry Hairston to avoid an arbitration hearing scheduled for yesterday. The Orioles had offered $1.15million and Hairston was seeking $1.8million.

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