Real Ripken stands up, wins AL Player of Week

Orioles notebook

September 22, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Shortstop Cal Ripken struggled all season to rediscover what came so naturally in 1991, and he finally appears to have succeeded.

Ripken batted .500 (12-for-24) last week and hit two home runs, a performance that rated him recogni- tion as the American League Player of the Week.

Better late than never. Ripken pulled out of a lengthy slump to reel off three consecutive three-hit games during a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals last week at Camden Yards.

He'll have a difficult time salvaging the kind of numbers that made him one of the most consistent run producers during the past 10 years, but he seems to be at peace with himself now that his protracted contract negotiations have been concluded.

"I feel a whole lot better," Ripken said. "I feel that things have

settled down. Things seem more normal now from my perspective. Physically and mentally, there is a certain balance. I know that I can't get a hit every time up, but everything seems to be more in balance."

The National League Player of the Week award, coincidentally, went to Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, whose four-year, $28.5 million contract -- signed last spring -- became a standard for comparison during the Ripken negotiations.

Manager Johnny Oates was pleased to hear that Ripken had received the weekly award.

"I'm happy any time we receive an individual honor," Oates said. "It's great. I'd rather he was the American League MVP, but if he can't be that, I'm happy he's swinging the bat so well right now. It's good to finish strong."

Ripken could shatter the notion that his consecutive-games streak is wearing him down with a strong September.

His numbers declined at the end of the three seasons leading to 1991, but he finished strongly last year to solidify his MVP season.

Devereaux hits century mark

Center fielder Mike Devereaux wasn't surprised to become the first Orioles outfielder in 12 years to reach 100 RBI, but he wasn't planning on it.

"It's important to me," Devereaux said, "but it's a feat that -- at the beginning of the season -- I didn't have as one of my goals for this year. I guess I was thinking more around 75 to 80."

The suspense was starting to build. He had not driven in a run in nine games, dating back to an RBI ground out on Sept. 9.

Oates on Dibble-Piniella fight

Oates isn't usually one to judge from afar, but he had this to say about the clubhouse scuffle between Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella and relief stopper Rob Dibble.

"I don't think I could see anybody in an O's uniform getting into something like that," he said. "I don't think there is a single guy in here that is that selfish.

"His [Dibble's] numbers say he is the best reliever in the game, but when do those things become a detriment to the ballclub?"

Mills to be examined

Right-hander Alan Mills is scheduled to see a neurologist tomorrow to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong with his sore right elbow.

Mills has been out for more than a week with elbow soreness. He appeared ready to return a couple of days ago, but decided that

he wanted a second medical opinion.

Horn to test side

Designated hitter Sam Horn will test his strained right side when he takes batting practice today, but he said he still is feeling the effects of the strained lateral oblique muscle that has kept him out for the past couple of weeks.

"It has improved tremendously, but I can still feel it when I do certain things," he said. "Hitting will be the big test. I'm on a good program, but the torque of swinging the bat could be a problem."

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