Work in Sports
Flying the coop
Orioles send Surhoff to Braves in five-player deal
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves added a potent left-handed bat to their lineup Monday, obtaining outfielder B.J. Surhoff and reliever Gabe Molina from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Trenidad Hubbard and two minor leaguers.
Surhoff is batting .293 with 27 doubles, 13 homers and 57 RBIs. He has played in all 103 games and owns the longest consecutive games streak in the majors at 427.
Surhoff was the subject of trade talks with a variety of teams, including the New York Yankees, but the Braves won the bidding war for the durable and competitive star by relenting on the Orioles' request for right-hander Luis Rivera.
"He was the key to the deal," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations.
Surhoff played only 4-plus seasons in Baltimore and was leaving a rebuilding club for one that is in first place. But tears welled up in Surhoff's eyes as he said goodbye to the city he called home.
"I just wouldn't have expected it to happen the way it happened," he said. "It's not that I don't want to play in Atlanta. I'm sure I'm going into a great situation and I know it's going to work out. I just thought I was going to be here."
Surhoff began his career in Milwaukee, and in 1995 thought long and hard before joining the Orioles as a free agent.
"I played my first nine years in one place and it was tough to leave them," he said. "I played my next four years here and had my best years. But there's a lot left in me."
Surhoff has hit safely in 42 of his last 49 games and is 23-for-68 (.338) in his last 17 games.
"We felt like improving the offense of our ballclub, especially in the outfield, was something we needed to do," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "[Surhoff] is a very versatile player. He's been very productive offensively."
Surhoff, 35, provides Braves manager Bobby Cox with yet another choice in the outfield.
"He's really team-oriented. He's high-quality and a still-good ballplayer at his age," Cox said.
Molina, 25, has bounced between the minors and the Orioles this season. He was 0-0 with a 9.00 in nine appearances.
But the key was Surhoff, who should fit right into the Braves' lineup.
"We've been really banged up lately. I think he's going to be a wonderful addition," the Braves' Bobby Bonilla said.
The deal was one of a series by the Orioles since Friday, all of them with the purpose of making an older squad into a younger, faster team. Baltimore also unloaded veteran first baseman Will Clark on Monday for 23-year-old third baseman Jose Leon.
Hubbard, 34, hit .185 with one homer and six RBIs in 60 games with the Braves.
Hubbard was visibly saddened to be leaving a first-place team for one in transition.
"I know they are not playing like the Braves, but they are a wonderful team," he said.
Rivera, 22, is 0-2 with an 8.06 ERA in eight games with Class AAA Richmond after missing two months with a right shoulder strain. He will be assigned to Class AAA Rochester.
Thrift loves his potential, saying the right-hander could be in the majors as soon as next year.
"The Atlanta Braves were relentless. They wouldn't give up Rivera," Thrift said. "So I told them this morning there would be no deal. ... He was regarded as untouchable.
"This is a pitcher John Schuerholz said he would never trade. At 3 o'clock, he changed his mind."
The Braves also sent catcher Fernando Lunar to the Orioles.
Lunar, 23, is in his seventh pro season. He hit .167 in 31 games with Class AA Greenville but also played in 22 games with Atlanta from May 5 to July 21, hitting .185 with five RBIs.