Ripken not only Orioles iron man Palmeiro, Alomar, Surhoff give O's 4 who haven't missed game

Only club in majors to do it

'It means we love to play and contribute'

June 24, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

In one corner of the Orioles clubhouse sits consecutive-games legend Cal Ripken and durable B. J. Surhoff.

Halfway across the room is where Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro reside.

The four veterans are not only among the most talented players on the team, but they are the only Orioles who have played in every game this season.

No other team in Major League Baseball has four players who have appeared in every game, giving the Orioles some stability in a season full of disabled list tours.

So just what does this mean to a high-profile and highly paid team that continues to search for a hot streak in an attempt to catch Boston for a possible wild-card spot in the playoffs?

"It means we love to play and contribute every day," said Palmeiro, who had played in every inning this season before sitting out the eighth and ninth innings Thursday against Toronto. "It's really nothing special to me because if you look at my past record, it shows I've always played in most of my team's games."

Palmeiro and Ripken are the only Orioles who have started every game this season.

When asked if he felt any pressure to play every day because the team is so far behind New York and Boston, Palmeiro said, "There's no pressure in playing. That's what we're all here to do. There is enough pressure surrounding the other aspects of the game. How many times you go out there to play is based mostly on luck. If you're hurt you can't play."

Palmeiro also said Ripken's streak of 2,555 games has not played a role in his desire to be on the field all the time.

"I think everybody in this clubhouse would rather play than sit," said Palmeiro.

However, Alomar said last night that he might want to take a day off soon as the brunt of the Baltimore humidity begins to hit town.

"I'm from Puerto Rico, where it really gets hot," said Alomar. "But the heat can really wear you down over a long season. There are ways to beat it a little, things like coming into the clubhouse as often as possible during batting practice to cool off. It means so much just to get out of the heat for a few minutes."

Palmeiro and Alomar both have used the short breaks during batting practice to save stamina for the long run.

Ripken and Surhoff also realize the importance of escaping the heat and humidity as often as possible, but they never compromise their renowned work habits.

Surhoff said: "I know what I have to do every day to prepare for games and I go out and do it."

The hard-nosed left fielder said he has come close to sitting out "some games" this season and would not have minded it.

"Ray [Miller] has tried to give me some days off," said Surhoff, who only appeared as a pinch hitter Sunday. "But each time he wanted to do that we had another outfielder hurt. Also I've been playing better this season."

Surhoff has come off the bench at times this season, but it isn't what he prefers.

"I'd much rather start," he said. "It takes you an inning or more to get going once you get in a game and you are always wondering when you might go in. That really takes just as much out of you mentally as being on the field."

Alomar said he also prefers to start.

"Going out there in the fifth inning is tough," said Alomar. "I love playing the game and want to be in there. Last season was the first time in my 10 years I missed a lot of games [50 with a pulled groin and shoulder strain] and it was very painful for me. I hope the fans realize how much I hated being out of the lineup."

Ripken?

What else can be said about a man who has not missed a game in 16 seasons?

Late O's game

Last night's New York Mets-Orioles game at Camden Yards, which was interrupted by a 1-hour, 26-minute rain delay with the Orioles leading 3-2 in the sixth inning, did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at http: //www.sunspot.net. For a report on last night's game and other Orioles information, call Sundial at 410-783-1800, ext. 5023 (in Anne Arundel County, call 410-268-7736, ext. 5023).

Orioles tonight

Opponent: New York Mets

Site: Shea Stadium, New York

Time: 7: 40

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: O's Pete Smith (0-1, 9.31) vs. Mets' Rick Reed (8-4, 2.38)

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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