Surhoff shoo-in as team MVP; Team's frustrations blunt pleasure of career highs


Capping the most productive season of his career, left fielder B. J. Surhoff received 33 of 34 first-place votes to win the Most Valuable Oriole Award.

If only he could have enjoyed the honor.

Surhoff's enthusiasm was tempered by the Orioles' 78-84 finish, their second losing season in a row after back-to-back appearances in the American League Championship Series.

"It's something that'll be nice later, maybe a couple years from now or when I'm done playing," he said. "I appreciate the recognition, but it would have been a lot nicer if we were continuing to play. It would mean a lot more."

Surhoff received a long ovation when he came to the plate in the first inning yesterday. He brought the crowd to its feet again in the eighth when he threw out the Boston Red Sox's Jeff Frye at the plate to preserve a scoreless tie -- his 16th outfield assist this season.

"The fan response was real nice. Anytime you feel appreciated by people, it's real welcome. It was a nice gesture on their part," he said.

Surhoff, 35, established career highs with 207 hits, 28 home runs and 107 RBIs. His hit total is the third-highest in club history. On Saturday, he broke the club mark for at-bats in a season with 669 and finished with 673. He also finished as the only regular left fielder in the majors without an error.

Mike Mussina was second in the voting and received the other first-place vote.

Kamieniecki raised hand

Asked after Saturday's game who his starter would be the next day, Orioles manager Ray Miller joked that he might roll the ball into the clubhouse and see who picked it up.

Apparently, Scott Kamieniecki was the first to stoop.

Kamieniecki made his first start since May 13, throwing 3 1/3 hitless innings before being ejected along with Boston's Troy O'Leary. He got the call because Sidney Ponson was scratched with stiffness behind his right shoulder.

"He volunteered [Saturday] night," Miller said. "I was going to start [Jim] Corsi to get a left-handed lineup and then go to [B. J.] Ryan, hoping they'd turn the lineup over."

Kamieniecki was scored upon in only one of his last nine appearances, and in only six of his last 32.

Reboulet pessimistic

Jeff Reboulet spent most of the final game sitting on the bench, finally entering as a defensive replacement at third base to begin the 10th inning. Where will he be spending next season?

Reboulet, 35, has a year left on his contract, but indicated yesterday he's not expecting to return.

"It could be [his last game]," he said. "You never know. I'll be somewhere."

His future is left more uncertain with the Orioles expected to change managers. "Whoever's here has to want me here," he said. "If it's a situation where they bring in a manager who doesn't put a lot of emphasis on defense, then why would I stay? Why would I want to be here?

"I'd like to be back, period. I like playing here. It might not be the best thing for me, but I enjoy playing here."

Reboulet's value lies in his defense and ability to move around the infield. He committed only two errors in 98 games but batted just .163 with one RBI after June 16.

Miller praised Reboulet for being "defensively, one of the best utility players I've ever seen."

"You sit there all year thinking, 'Please hit it to Bordy [Mike Bordick],' and then you put Rebs in there late and you say, 'Please hit it to Rebs or Bordy,' " Miller said.

The Orioles could hand the utility job to Jesse Garcia next season.

Yankees, Braves picked

Miller offered his World Series picks yesterday. He likes the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, citing both teams' pitching.

"Atlanta has an outstanding young bullpen and all the experience in the world. And New York has the most balance of any club I've seen -- starters, middle relievers, short men, left-right, speed," Miller said.

Around the horn

Bordick's double in the third inning was the club's 299th this season, tying a record set in 1996. The Orioles drew 3,433,150 fans for 80 home dates this season.

Pub Date: 10/04/99

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