Cal Ripken was running on to the field for batting practice yesterday when a professorial type started calling for him. Once, DTC twice, three times. "Cal!" the man yelled. "Cal! Cal!"
Ripken turned around and, for the first time, shook hands with American League president Gene Budig, who, during the replacement spring, was nearly forced to decide the fate of Ripken's streak.
Budig accomplished his primary mission -- "I want to meet Cal," he said -- after speaking with reporters about the decline in attendance this spring.
"I expected the numbers to be down," he said. "What we need is a long-term solution. That means an indefinite commitment on the part of players and owners to be fan-friendly."
Budig had several suggestions to that end, including more community involvement on the part of players -- "They are role models," he said -- and a labor agreement.
"This game needs peace," Budig said. "The fans want to be assured of its stability. Many fans are angered about the events of the last nine months. . . . But they will come back if we're fair with them."
Gomez pulled, for an at-bat
Orioles manager Phil Regan pinch-hit for struggling third baseman Leo Gomez in the sixth inning, using Kevin Bass instead. "I wanted a left-handed hitter in there," he said.
Gomez was dropped to the ninth slot in the order yesterday, the first time he has been out of the No. 8 spot all year. Gomez is hitting .192, with one run scored and no RBIs or extra-base hits. Regan said he's not contemplating a change. "It's too early," Regan said. "A lot of guys around baseball are off to slow starts."
Around the horn
Jeff Manto, the only Orioles player who had not appeared in a game in 1995, entered the game in a double-switch in the seventh inning, replacing Gomez at third base. Manto later batted and struck out. . . . Brewers catcher Joe Oliver stole a base in the fourth inning, his first since 1992. . . . Sid Fernandez, the Orioles' starter, lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three hits, four walks and one run and striking out five. . . . The Orioles stole their first two bases, Brady Anderson taking one in the first and pinch runner Manny Alexander stealing second in the seventh inning. The Orioles had gone 63 innings without a steal. . . . The Orioles have one error in their past five games. . . . Arn Tellem, the agent for pitcher Mike Mussina, is expected to resume negotiations with the Orioles today regarding a long-term contract.