BOSTON -- Shortstop Cal Ripken felt a twinge in his left shoulder when he made a spectacular lunging catch in Monday night's loss, but he said yesterday that it was nothing to be concerned about.
"I just stretched it out a little bit," said Ripken. "It gave me a little twang, but it doesn't affect anything else that I do. I'm just getting old, I guess."
It has reached the point where every little bump and bruise takes on more significance as Ripken draws closer to Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played. He suffered a twisted knee in the June 6 brawl with the Seattle Mariners and almost missed a game, but this apparently was not nearly so severe.
Ripken, whose 1,880-game streak began on May 30, 1982, robbed Red Sox infielder Scott Fletcher of a bases-loaded single when he ranged far behind second base to stab his line drive. It looked like it might be the pivotal play of the game, but Boston third baseman Tim Naehring delivered a two-run single later in the inning to put the Red Sox over the top.
The veteran shortstop had an icepack on the shoulder before last night's game and needed another one after Red Sox pitcher Danny Darwin hit him on the left upper arm with a pitch in the first inning.
He also collided with former teammate Bob Melvin at the plate, but it was Melvin who was hurt that time, requiring three stitches to close a gash in his forehead.
Olson guardedly optimistic
Closer Gregg Olson said yesterday that he is holding out some hope that he can be ready to pitch by the end of the nine-game road trip, but the Orioles are not counting on him to return this year.
"Everything is getting better," said Olson, who threw on the side yesterday. "The last two times I've thrown were real good. Everything is going well. That [returning soon] is a possibility. Every time out gives me a better idea, but I don't know."
First baseman Glenn Davis cleared waivers yesterday and became a free agent, officially ending his tenure with the Orioles.
He can be signed by any club, but the Orioles are responsible for the remainder of his 1993 salary, less the prorated portion of the major-league minimum salary if somebody signs Davis for the final two weeks.
That seems unlikely. Chances are, Davis will sign an incentive-laden one-year contract with a National League team next year and try to prove he can be an impact player again.
Rhodes' job in jeopardy?
Left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings in Monday night's game, is not assured of remaining in the starting rotation the rest of the season, even though he has a 3-2 record since he returned from the disabled list.
Manager Johnny Oates said yesterday, before Fernando Valenzuela's complete-game performance, that the only Orioles starters who are secure are Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald and Jamie Moyer.
Could that lead to a start for right-hander Rick Sutcliffe, who is waiting for a chance to re-enter the rotation?
"Other than Mussina, McDonald and Moyer, anything can happen," Oates said. "The rest of them, from here on out, are as needed."
Mussina will go
Mussina still is scheduled to take the mound against Roger Clemens tonight. He skipped his between-start workout and probably will not pitch between starts again this year, but he said that his shoulder is OK.
Mussina had to leave his last start after six innings because his shoulder stiffened up, leaving him questionable for tonight's game.
Lonnie gets a start
Newly acquired outfielder Lonnie Smith made his first start as an Oriole last night, appearing in left field.
Brady Anderson moved to right field and Mark McLemore moved to second base to make room for Smith, who had appeared in an Orioles uniform once as a pinch hitter before last night.
The move paid off when Smith hit a long ground-rule double to set up a pair of runs in the four-run seventh inning that put the Orioles over the top.
Harold Reynolds got the night off because he has one hit in 19 career at-bats against Darwin.