Faced with a shortage of players for a third straight game, Baltimore Orioles Manager Ray Miller moved left fielder B.J. Surhoff to third base for tonight's game against the Oakland Athletics and indicated it may be more than a one-game experiment.

With third baseman Cal Ripken on his way back to Baltimore to have his stiff back examined, Miller chose to move Surhoff to third and play Jeff Conine in left, rather than use defensive specialist Jeff Reboulet at third, as he did on Sunday.

Surhoff was the Orioles' everyday third baseman in 1996, but last played there in 1997, when he took part in three games. He has since developed into one of the best all-around left fielders in the American League.

Miller said Ryan Minor likely would be called up from Class AAA Rochester if Ripken has to go on the disabled list, but Miller also indicated there might be a long-term possibility of Surhoff playing third, which would allow the Orioles to move center fielder Brady Anderson to left, a move they pondered this winter. However, that would assume the Orioles have a top center field prospect, which they do not.

"Long-term, one of our goals last year was to get Brady to left field. It's one of the things we talked about," Miller said. "If that's the case in the future, B.J. is going to have to play the infield or something. I put him there [today] because he's the guy we would go to in extra innings. If we run out of people, B.J. could go to third, and Cal goes to short."

Bones Relieved to Start

Right-hander Ricky Bones, who was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation when Juan Guzman was traded on Saturday, said he expected to be able to throw five or six innings when he starts Tuesday night for the first time in two years.

"Pitch count is not a big deal to me," said Bones, 30, who will make a minimum of two starts. "We aren't going to go crazy. We're not going to blow my arm out." . . .

Reliever Jim Corsi joined the Orioles' bullpen today. Corsi, 37, was called up from Rochester on Sunday to take Bones' spot in the bullpen when Bones was moved into the starting rotation. Corsi replaces Guzman on the 25-man roster. . . .

Because of the bench shortage tonight, pitcher Mike Mussina was designated the Orioles' second reserve outfielder. . . . Anderson was back in the lineup tonight in center field after missing the last four games with a sprained ankle.