ATLANTA -- The agent for Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Bill Ripken will meet with Orioles officials tomorrow to begin contract discussions for those three players.
Ron Shapiro, the Baltimore-based agent, said he ran into general manager Pat Gillick yesterday and set up the meeting. Cal Ripken wants to extend his current contract, which runs out after next season, so his impending free agency won't be a distraction in 1997.
The Orioles likely will offer a contract to Bill Ripken -- possibly a minor-league deal -- with the tacit understanding he'll make the team at the end of spring training. Bill Ripken was valuable in a utility role last season, playing well when given the opportunity.
The Orioles probably will offer Murray some sort of role on next year's team; what remains to be determined is whether he'll still be a full-time player, how much he'll be paid and whether Murray will be willing to play in any role other than an everyday designated hitter.
Shapiro also represents reliever Roger McDowell, who broke down in July and needed corrective shoulder surgery. McDowell has said he wants to come back with the Orioles.
Sackinsky changes mind
Two days ago, it appeared Orioles minor-league prospect Brian Sackinsky was going to retire because of shoulder problems.
Now, Sackinsky's agent says the right-hander will be ready for spring training.
Sackinsky, the Orioles' second-round pick in the 1992 draft who pitched at Triple-A Rochester this season, told Gillick he was going to retire earlier this week because of pain in his throwing shoulder.
Sackinsky's shoulder started hurting near the end of the regular season and continued in the Arizona Fall League.
"Brian was very depressed and he was contemplating retirement," his agent, Alan Meersand, said. "His arm wasn't getting any better. But I talked him out of retirement and told him to see another doctor."
Sackinsky, 24, was examined by the Pittsburgh Pirates' team doctor and was found to have only tendinitis and no tear or damage in his right shoulder.
Sackinsky, who lives in Pittsburgh and had shoulder surgery in 1995, will rest the shoulder for four to six weeks, then will be re-examined. He will work out in an off-season strength and conditioning program at Three Rivers Stadium and Meersand said the shoulder should be 100 percent by the start of spring training.
They have similar roots, but they took dissimilar routes to the World Series.
Left-hander Denny Neagle pitched five strong innings last night while the Atlanta Braves built a big lead in the early innings of Game 4. Right-hander Mike Bielecki bailed him out of a big jam in the sixth and looked like he was going to be one of those very unlikely World Series heroes until Yankees catcher Jim Leyritz stole that distinction with a game-tying three-run homer off closer Mark Wohlers.
Neagle and Bielecki have two things in common. They both were born in the Baltimore area and neither pitcher was on the Atlanta Braves' roster when the club went to spring training last February.
Neagle, who grew up in Gambrills, was playing for the beleaguered Pittsburgh Pirates when he was sought out by the Braves in August. Bielecki grew up in Dundalk, and was prepared to retire when a spring tryout turned into a full season for him in the Braves' bullpen.
Puckett wins award
Retired Minnesota Twins outfielder Kirby Puckett became the 26th recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given each year to a player for his humanitarian and community efforts.
Cal Ripken, who received the award in 1992, was on hand to present it to Puckett, who has long been known for his good citizenship and his extensive charitable endeavors.
"As a past winner of the award, I know the meaning of the award goes beyond the awards that evaluate you as a baseball player," Ripken said. "Kirby exemplifies to me what Roberto Clemente stood for. Roberto Clemente stands for caring and giving back to the community. Nobody represents that more than Kirby."
It was the last chance for Puckett to win the award. His career ended last spring when he suffered irreversible eye damage due to glaucoma. He retired during the season and now is enjoying the opportunity to spend more time with his family.
"Being a good ballplayer means a lot," Puckett said, "but being considered a good person means a lot more. I've closed the book on my life as far as baseball is concerned. With the help of my wife, my representatives and good friends like Cal, I'm ready."
The success of several teams -- particularly some of the large-market clubs -- in scouting and signing international players has prompted a call for an international amateur draft, something the Braves said they would support if the right foundation is laid.
"We have to be careful about that," general manager John Schuerholz said. "You have to form partnerships with all those countries. There has to be cooperation for it to work. You can't just dictate to them from here."
Around the horn
Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said Andy Pettitte, who starts Game 5 tonight, probably suffered from jitters in his Game 1 start. "In a sense, you want them excited," said Stottlemyre. "When the game starts, you want them to forget all the hype. If I asked him if he was nervous, and he said no, then I'd be nervous."
The Yankees have come back to win six playoff games, including last night's victory over the Braves.
Date ... Opp. .. Deficit ....... Final
10-2 ... Tex. .. 4-2 in 6th .... W, 5-4
10-4 ... Tex. .. 2-1 in 8th .... W, 3-2
10-5 ... Tex. .. 4-0 in 3rd .... W, 6-4
10-9 ... O's ... 4-2 in 6th .... W, 5-4
10-11 .. O's ... 2-1 in 8th .... W, 5-2
10-23 .. Atl. .. 6-0 in 5th .... W, 8-6
Pub Date: 10/24/96