RBI record feels 'good' to Ripken Brooks Robinson's mark for career RBIs broken on 3-run HR in first

Orioles Notebook

September 16, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- Orioles manager Davey Johnson and hitting coach Rick Down see signs that Cal Ripken is working out of his slump.

Entering yesterday's game, Ripken had just one RBI in his last 17 games, and was hitting .210 (13-for-62) in his last 16 games.

But yesterday, Ripken homered in his first at-bat. The three-run homer gave Ripken 1,358 career RBIs, passing Brooks Robinson for first on the Orioles' all-time list.

"From the standpoint [of growing up an Orioles fan], it makes you feel good, because the Orioles have such a rich history in baseball," Ripken said. "You have to be able to produce runs over a long period of time to get the most RBIs. I feel good about it."

Johnson could see it coming.

"Cal is a streak hitter," Johnson said. "And by and large a guess hitter. And he goes hot and cold. He swung the bat very good for three months, but he's showing signs here lately of getting close to where he was starting in Seattle."

In Seattle on May 28, Ripken had his first three-homer game and collected a career-high eight RBIs. That game sparked a torrid tear for Ripken that took him into August.

Slump or no slump, Johnson made clear that he has no immediate plans to end Ripken's consecutive-games streak, which stands at 2,303 games. Before reporters could even ask Johnson if he was thinking of giving the shortstop a day off, the manager answered the question for them.

"No, I'm not thinking about resting him," Johnson said. "I know that was the next question."

Haynes, Smith finished

Pitcher Jimmy Haynes and outfielder Mark Smith likely are finished for the season with the Orioles and will be sent home tomorrow, Johnson said.

Smith, on the disabled list with a bruised leg, said he will stay in Baltimore to work out and continue his rehabilitation. Haynes said he'll spend time in Georgia, where he's getting married, before leaving for the instructional league in Sarasota, Fla. After that, he'll play in the Arizona Fall League.

Johnson spoke with both players in Detroit and said he will chat with them again today before they leave.

Smith, who played in 27 games with the Orioles, rehabilitated at Double-A and Triple-A but still had trouble running. He injured his leg by fouling a ball off it, and at the time, it did not seem serious. However, the bruise was in the bone and has not healed well.

"I think [Smith] has been pushing it to try and get to play and I think it's probably the best thing we can do so he's ready for next year," Johnson said. "Obviously, something's inside the bone. He's just going to take some time off and not try to push."

Smith said he has no problem playing with pain, but he can't run at full speed without shivers running through his leg.

"It's been very frustrating," Smith said. "This has been the toughest year of my career. I really wanted to be a part of this team. I guess it gives me the opportunity to weight train and rest up for winter ball."

Haynes has struggled in the majors this year, after being handed the fifth starter's job in spring training. He is 3-6 with an 8.29 ERA, and Johnson said Haynes must learn to get pitches other than his fastball over the plate. The manager hopes Haynes can regain his confidence in the fall leagues.

"He's still one heck of a prospect," Johnson said. "He could be a heck of a big-league starting pitcher. To be successful up here, you have to be able to throw at least two big-league pitches over. He has only been able to throw one."

Hammonds takes BP

Jeffrey Hammonds took batting practice with the Orioles yesterday for the first time in a month since injuring his knee in Oakland, and he said he hopes to play again soon.

"I tried to find out some more info, but they won't tell me anything," Hammonds said with a laugh. "I just have to keep testing it. It's hard to tell right now. I have to do some more running tests, like twisting and turning it."

Hammonds is working closely with the training staff to monitor his knee's responsiveness. Hammonds said the training staff will tell him more about a possible return date after he endures more rigorous testing this week.

Corbin's double dose

Reliever Archie Corbin had trouble deciding what's more exciting, experiencing his first major-league pennant race or awaiting the birth of his second child.

Corbin left the Orioles yesterday afternoon to fly to Texas, where his wife will undergo induced labor today. If all goes well, he will rejoin the team tomorrow in New York.

"I'd have to say the birth of my second child is a better feeling, but the pennant race is exciting, too," Corbin said after giving the subject some thought.

Closing question

Johnson said ideally by the end of this season or the start of next year, he'd like to work with two or three closers. Johnson said he hopes with the emergence of Armando Benitez, and the re-emergence of Alan Mills, the Orioles will be able to duplicate the success he had with multiple closers on championship teams in New York and Cincinnati.

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