Wren appeared genuinely befuddled at the media crush surrounding him afterward. He downplayed Ripken's condition by saying he didn't believe it serious enough to warrant a stay on the disabled list. "Frankly," he said, "I'm a little surprised it's this big a deal."
The Orioles can only be thankful Ripken decided last Sept. 20 to terminate his 2,632-game streak, which dated to 1982. The club, which has a day off today, refused to disclose anything about his whereabouts or when he left the ballpark, and only reluctantly provided sketchy details of his condition.
Wren classified it as "a strain" while teammates portrayed Ripken as being in greater distress. Given Ripken's reluctance to give into pain associated with a herniated disk during the 1997 season, the condition is likely significant.
"He's really not known as a malingerer," Anderson said. "I know his back was hurting."
Ripken had complained of back stiffness before the game but received treatment from head trainer Richie Bancells that eased the condition. He then participated in pre-game infield and took batting practice. Third base coach Sam Perlozzo had no indication there was a problem until Miller motioned at him immediately before Otanez emerged to pinch hit. Others knew more.
"I saw him before the game started and needless to say, he was in a lot of pain," Clark said. "I was surprised he was able to go out there as long as he did."
Miller described Ripken as "day-to-day like we all are." He said the decision for Ripken to leave the game was his based upon the player's description of the pain.
On Sunday Ripken felt strong enough to take extra batting practice following an afternoon workout. But yesterday broke much cooler, and a lengthy pre-game ceremony necessitated players standing in place for about 15 minutes. Instead of breaking sharply out of the dugout to his position, Ripken jogged to third base.
His condition became apparent when the game's second batter, Dave Martinez, dropped a bunt between Ripken and Mussina. On a ball Ripken typically handles, Mussina never saw nor heard him.
"When he hurt his back a couple years ago, there was a similar play where I had to get the ball," Mussina recalled. "At the time he couldn't make the play. This time I didn't see him or hear him or anything. There was kind of a flashback to then."
Pub Date: 4/06/99