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Outfielder gets spring training invite

BALTIMORE -- Outfielder B.J. Surhoff re-signed with the
Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, accepting a minor league contract
that includes an invitation to spring training.

If the Orioles did not agree to a deal by midnight Thursday, he
would not have been able to re-sign until May 1.

Surhoff would get an $800,000, one-year contract if he makes the
opening day roster and can earn an addition $1.15 million in
performance bonuses based on games and plate appearances. After
signing a similar deal with Baltimore last year, he started on
opening day and played in 93 games, hitting .295 with five homers
and 41 RBIs.

Surhoff returns to a team enhanced by the offseason addition of
free agents Javy Lopez and Miguel Tejada. The Orioles are also
involved in negotiations with veteran first baseman Rafael Palmeiro
and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.

Palmeiro, 39, is seeking a two-year contract to return to
Baltimore. Palmeiro and Surhoff were teammates on the Orioles in
1997, the last time the team reached the postseason.

Guerrero, meanwhile, is seeking a contract longer than the five
years offered by Baltimore.

Surhoff, who turns 40 in August, twice was placed on the
disabled list in 2003. He is expected to see a reduced role this
year -- especially if the Orioles land Guerrero and Palmeiro.

Surhoff received the majority of his 73 starts (37) at
designated hitter in 2003. The left-handed hitter can expect a few
spot starts against right-handers in 2004, and should also receive
several at-bats as a pinch hitter.

The Orioles on Thursday also invited nine non-roster players to
their spring training camp in Florida. They are: right-handed
pitcher Darwin Cubillan; catchers Raul Casanova, Bill Haselman and
Carlos Mendez; infielders Napoleon Calzado, Eddy Garabito and Luis
Lopez; and outfielders Chad Mottola and Pedro Swann.

Mendez and Swann were with the Orioles for parts of last season,
while Casanova and Lopez spent time with the Orioles in 2002.
Haselman would get a $500,000, one-year deal if he makes the team.

In other news, the Orioles announced that they will open the
2004 season on Sunday night, April 4, at home against Boston, a
game originally slated to take place on April 5, which will now be
an off day.

Playing on national television on Sunday night, according to
Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan, is ''a great way for us to
kick off our 50th anniversary season with lots of fanfare.''