After working at times in the Orioles’ minor leagues the past three seasons on an unofficial basis, former Oriole B.J. Surhoff will now have an official role on the O’s farm this year.
Surhoff has agreed to join the club as a special assignment coach. He played for the Orioles for parts of eight seasons, beginning in 1996. He was traded to Atlanta in 2000, but ended his career with the Orioles in 2005.
Orioles director of player development Brian Graham is excited about today’s news. He’ll work with Surhoff and he’ll have some very specific assignments with specific players. The O’s are thrilled to have him on board.
“Adding a guy with his experience and knowledge and ability to teach in addition to the toughness he brings is great,” Graham said. “B.J. brings a mental toughness that is such a valuable component of becoming a big league player. That is something you can’t give through instruction.
“He will work at all the levels. There will be times when he goes in to work with hitters. There may be times he goes to work with infielders, outfielders, baserunners. He came up as a catcher. I’m excited about this.”
Surhoff first worked with some O’s minor league players during the 2011 season when sought out by then O’s director of player development John Stockstill. He spent some time in the system last year, mostly at Double-A Bowie, but he was also at Single-A Frederick, Single-A Delmarva and short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
Surhoff enjoyed that and now he’s coming back with an expanded role that begins in spring training.
“I like being around the guys and working with them,” Surhoff said. “I enjoy seeing the guys try to get better and enjoy working with the guys that want to get better.
“The guys I’ve worked with have really been open to it. But I don’t come in and just change something. I try to help with little things. Maybe a guy that is struggling a little bit might need a fresh voice or a little extra time while coaches are with some other guys.
“If need be, maybe a kick in the pants. I’ve had a manager ask me, ‘Do you mind talking with player X, I think he’s tired of listening to me. Would you mind talking to him for me?’ I doubt I can help every single player but I want to be available to anyone that wants help.
“I feel pretty confident and capable to help wherever I’m asked. I’m not going to go be the infield instructor, but if I see something with a guy maybe at first or third base, maybe I see something that can help them. But I’ll talk with whoever is working with them first.”
Sometimes that help can come not necessarily with a specific tip about hitting or fielding.
“It might just be having a conversation,” Surhoff said. “There was one kid last year I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and we spent 20 minutes talking in the outfield one day just about how he was feeling. I think both of us felt good about the conversation.
“I’ve gotten to know some of the coaches a little bit and sometimes they need someone that might be a sounding board with a little different view. My goal is only to help wherever I can help.”
That help took him to Camden Yards a few times this winter when Ryan Flaherty sought him out for some hitting help.
“Ryan asked me to take a look and he was down at the stadium and we spent some time together,” Surhoff said. “We worked on a few things with him and hopefully in camp might have a chance to work on a few more things.”
So after playing 1,001 games in an Orioles uniform, Surhoff has an official role with the club again and that has some meaning for him.
“I haven’t worked for anybody else, so that would be a yes. This works for me. I’m very excited about it. This is the place my kids grew up and this is the 18th year I’m going to be here,” he said.