Big headache is small price for grateful Milligan

April 24, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- All things considered, Randy Milligan was happy to have a bad headache yesterday. A lot of people have felt worse after a long night out.

The Orioles first baseman was hospitalized overnight Wednesday after a collision with second baseman Bill Ripken that knocked both out of the lineup for last night's game against the Kansas City Royals.

Milligan, who suffered a mild concussion, a bruised right cheek and a stretched nerve in his right shoulder, was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He spent the next six hours resting in his hotel room before going to Royals Stadium for last night's game and then accompanying the Orioles on their flight to New York.

After undergoing an MRI test administered by Dr. Mark Bernhardt, a spinal specialist at St. Luke's Hospital, Milligan was cleared to rejoin the team. "I feel good, except for a big headache, a sore cheek and the fact I didn't get any sleep," Milligan said shortly after being released.

"The doctor told me to take 48 hours, so I think I could be back by Sunday -- or Monday at the latest."

Ripken escaped the collision with a bruised left shoulder and could be ready to return to the lineup tonight, when the Orioles open a three-game series against the Yankees. "I have pretty good range of motion," said Ripken. "I'm still stiff and sore, but nothing like last [Wednesday] night."

Milligan admitted he was scared when he regained consciousness an estimated 15 seconds after colliding with Ripken. "I couldn't feel my arms or my legs," he said. "It was pretty frightening.

"But the longer I laid there, I started to get my senses back," said Milligan, who was outfitted with a neck and head brace as a precautionary measure. "I guess it was like a fighter getting knocked out."

Milligan was on the ground for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time before being placed in an ambulance and transported to the hospital. But the time lapse was not due to any crossed signals.

The ambulance crew went immediately onto the field to check Milligan's condition, along with the K.C. team doctors and Orioles trainers Richie Bancells and Jamie Reed. "A lot of his being on the ground that long was precautionary," said manager Johnny Oates.

"I know it seemed like a long time before the ambulance got there," said Royals general manager Herk Robinson. "But the decision was made for the crew to go to the scene first, then go back and bring the ambulance onto the field."

Actually, the delay wasn't as long as it appeared. Play resumed exactly 20 minutes after Milligan and Ripken collided.

Milligan said he remembered little about the play that put him in the hospital. "I know it was the second baseman's ball," said Milligan, "but he [Keith Miller] didn't hit it very good and I thought I might be the only guy who could make the play.

"I didn't even see Billy. I reached down to get the ball and the next thing I know, Richie [Bancells] was leaning over me."

Milligan and Ripken listened to the game on the radio during their ambulance ride. After reaching the hospital, Ripken told Milligan: "Moose, I think when you see the replay, you'll find out you were on my turf."

"I didn't think I was that far off first base," said Milligan.

Asked how Ripken could knock him out, since he had a decided weight advantage, Milligan replied: "It was like a sucker punch. He got me this time, I'm going to get him tomorrow."

Almost 24 hours later, it was easy to maintain a lighthearted approach. A severe headache and assorted bruises were a small price to pay considering the grim possibilities of the night before.

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