Cal Ripken confessed last night.
"Sometimes in a moment of weakness, I sit back and reflect on it," he said of a consecutive-games streak that reached 1,500 in the opener of the current homestand. "But I don't try to keep track of it. That's my way of dealing with it."
Ripken was the focus of pre-game activity that included the presentation of the MVP trophy in the 1991 All-Star Game and of a minivan that he and his wife, Kelly, donated to Baltimore Reads Inc., the foundation that coordinates the city's literacy efforts.
"The 1,500 is a nice big, round number," he said. "But I really don't know what it means. I'm proud, but I try not to get caught up in it."
Ripken said he does not want to become obsessed with the quest of Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 games, calling such an approach "the worst thing you can do."
The streak began May 30, 1982, when he was a third baseman. He was moved to shortstop a month later and, since the start, has played in 13,549 of a possible 13,633 innings.
He said he feels physically the same as he did last season when critics complained of his subpar offensive production and insisted he needed some rest.
"But the pressures of success aren't there this year. It's easy to focus," said Ripken. "Besides, I find ways to get days off without taking days off.
"I can miss batting practice or taking grounders or in blowout games, I can take a break to get an inning or two off."
Ripken has come out early 29 times during the streak, 10 this year.
At the All-Star Game in Toronto, he wowed the fans and fellow players by hitting 12 homers in 22 swings during the home run contest, then clubbed a three-run homer off former teammate Dennis Martinez the next night to lead the American League to a 4-2 victory.
"The whole year has been really exciting," he said. "Everything seems to be going my way. That [All-Star Game] has always been a nerve-wracking experience, but after the home run contest, everything fell right into place."
Hulett undergoing checks
Infielder Tim Hulett's back injury is under examination by team orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein, but so far there is no diagnosis.
"We're checking. We're not sure what it is," said manager John Oates. "For now, he's on a day-to-day basis."
Hulett was hurt bending over to pick up a baseball during batting practice on the road trip. He has not fared well lately, batting .148 since June 23.
Segui available to hit
Another in a holding mode was David Segui, who sprained his right ankle at California after rounding first base.
"It's still sore," said Segui.
Oates said Segui was available to pinch hit and was thankful it wasn't as serious as the situation first appeared when Segui crumbled and was tagged out after a single.
"When that happens you lose all sense of where you've been and where you're going," said the manager.
Oates said Dave Johnson's status is up in the air "not from a health standpoint, but from a roster standpoint. When the need FTC is there, he'll be added to the roster." Johnson has been rehabilitating at Class AA Hagerstown and Class AAA Rochester. . . . The 4 pitchers who combined to no-hit Oakland -- Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson -- will be honored before tonight's game. It was only the second no-hitter in history by 4 different pitchers. . . .