After receiving an unexpected midnight phone call, Tony Tarasco hustled from Rochester, N.Y., to Camden Yards yesterday only to be placed in limbo.

Rather than put injured left fielder B. J. Surhoff on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin muscle, the Orioles have decided to postpone a decision as long as this weekend. For Surhoff, the delay gives him time to convince manager Davey Johnson that he need not be deleted from an already gimpy outfield. For Tarasco, it means another frustrating delay in his desire for a big-league spot.

Johnson is willing to play a man short for a week. However, he must receive an encouraging trainer's report in the next few days.

"If he can play in a week, we don't DL him," Johnson said. "But it's got to be a guarantee. They've got to tell me five days. If it's going to be 10 days, you've got to DL him. You'd just as soon give him the extra five [days] to really get over a leg injury."

Johnson had speculated after Tuesday's game that Surhoff would need 10 to 14 days to recover from the injury. "I don't know how he came up with that. I don't understand," Surhoff said between treatments Wednesday. "We'll just have to see."

At noon, the club planned to put Surhoff on the DL, but waited until he reported for an early afternoon examination. Surhoff, who reported marked improvement in the 20 hours since he abruptly pulled up while running to first base in the seventh inning, jogged on a treadmill to demonstrate to trainer Richie Bancells that he was not incapacitated.

"He's running the marathon in there trying to prove he's OK and not close to the DL," said Johnson. "If he came in here heavy-legged. and couldn't do a whole lot, I'd say time to DL him."

Johnson said Surhoff would be evaluated further today.

While the club waits on Surhoff, Tarasco waits on the club. Tarasco labeled himself "on furlough." Because of nagging injuries to Jerome Walton, Jeffrey Hammonds and Eric Davis, Tarasco will remain with the club as an insurance policy.

Johnson described Walton as "limited" and Davis as "probably not 100 percent." Hammonds aggravated a groin injury Monday in Boston.

"He's telling me he's fine. I know he's not," Johnson said of Hammonds. "I would prefer to go with somebody else out there. But I don't have any choice. My cards are on the table. I ain't holding any back. They're all face up. I'm playing 'em."

Tarasco, 26, and his agent, Dennis Gilbert, have requested a trade, but the club remains reluctant due to the uncertain status of several regulars.

"I have asked. My agent has asked," said Tarasco, who appeared in 126 games for Montreal in 1995. "It's a great organization. No way have I ever said it's a bad organization. But I want to play like any other young kid coming up, trying to establish myself. I'd like to go somewhere where I can play."

Tarasco added that he would like to be a part of this team as well. However, numbers dictate against him. Hammonds' encouraging start as an everyday center fielder has placed him squarely ahead of Tarasco.

Faced with the prospect of shuttling between the minor leagues and Baltimore, Tarasco said after being optioned April 7 that he was not interested in becoming the organization's "yo-yo."

General manager Pat Gillick met with the player in an attempt to ease his feelings but with only marginal results.

"When I'm down there, I try not to watch too many big-league games. I try to concentrate on what's going on down there instead of sitting in the hotel room dreaming."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Oriole Park

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Red Sox's Chris Hammond (0-0, 6.10) vs. Orioles' Scott Kamieniecki (1-0, 4.02)

Tickets: 7,500 available

Late O's game

Last night's White Sox-Orioles game at Camden Yards did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions. For a report on last night's game and other Orioles information, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800, ext. 5023.

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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