- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Baltimore Orioles added some insurance to their infield yesterday by signing veterans John Valentin and former Oriole Jeff Reboulet to minor-league contracts and inviting them to spring training.
"It's low-cost and low-risk," Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said. "It's in case something happens in spring training. … It's good to have veteran guys as backups rather than young players."
The club also avoided salary arbitration with left-handed reliever B.J. Ryan by signing him to a one-year contract that Beattie said was essentially between Ryan's and the Orioles' offer, or about $765,000. Ryan went 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA in a career-high 67 appearances last season. The club still has three arbitration-eligible players without contracts Sidney Ponson, Jerry Hairston and Melvin Mora. The players have hearings set for mid-February if they cannot reach an agreement with the club before then.
Reboulet and Valentin are utility infielders and have experience pinch-hitting. Valentin hit .240 in 114 games with the Mets last season. He hit .294 as a pinch-hitter, and his 15 pinch hits were third-best in the majors.
Reboulet, 38, hit .208 in 38 games for the Dodgers last season, and was mostly utilized as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter. He played in Baltimore from 1997 through 1999 and is a .240 career hitter who can play all infield positions.
Also, Beattie said the Orioles will bring in 38-year-old free agent B.J. Surhoff for a second workout tomorrow after first working him out on Monday. The club is considering a contract offer for Surhoff, who played only 25 games last season in Atlanta because of a knee injury and was an Oriole from 1996 to 2000.
Tickets for individual games, except for the home opener against Cleveland, go on sale on Saturday at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Camden Yards box office and the team Web site. The Orioles Fan Fest is also Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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