17th All-Star Game still `special' for Ripken

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Boston site, O's comeback from DL woes add to joy

July 06, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The sun came up yesterday. Traffic in the city was congested, as was anyone allergic to filth. The bleacher creatures at Yankee Stadium chanted obscenities. And Cal Ripken was voted into another All-Star Game.

It was all so inevitable.

For Ripken, the surprise of going to the midsummer classic waned long ago. His 17 appearances are consecutive, the last three at third base. Only Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, with 18, has represented the Orioles more often than Ripken.

In a season when every game seems to bring another milestone, Ripken's 15th election ties Rod Carew for the all-time record.

"It's always great news," he said. "I looked forward to going this year. With it being in Boston, you know it's going to be special."

The only time Ripken didn't make the All-Star team was 1982, when he settled for being named Rookie of the Year. Some doubts cropped up this season when he went on the disabled list for the first time in his career with his average at .179, but improved health coincided with a resurgence that has him hitting .310 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs after his two-run shot last night.

"For me personally, I feel good about coming back from the injury and feeling good about how I'm playing. When you feel good about yourself, it makes the game a little bit better," Ripken said.

"You try not to think about it at the start of the season. You're worrying about how you're playing and how things are going. But looking back with a little bit of hindsight, I wasn't sure how the season was going to go and how I was going to come back from the injury. I'm very pleased with how the back is feeling and very pleased with the way I'm playing."

Ripken received 1,285,728 votes to outdistance runner-up Travis Fryman (1,130,651), who fell short despite rampant ballot-stuffing in Cleveland for next Tuesday's game at Fenway Park.

"With the All-Star Game, you want to feel the most deserving," Ripken said, "and when you feel good about yourself you stand up a little taller when you get in the game. I've been voted in a couple years when statistically I might not have been the most deserving player at that position and sometimes you feel a little less deserving. But this year I feel pretty good about how I'm playing and I'm looking forward to going."

Ripken went 1-for-4 with a two-run double in last year's game in Denver -- his record-setting 15th straight start. He was named Most Valuable Player in the 1991 game in Toronto after hitting a three-run homer off Dennis Martinez, only the third AL shortstop to homer in an All-Star Game.

Torre high on Surhoff

The reserves won't be announced until tomorrow, and it's difficult to imagine B. J. Surhoff being denied his first berth despite a glut of worthy outfield candidates.

Joe Torre, who will manage the AL club, already has endorsed Surhoff's inclusion on the roster. He doesn't have sole authority to make the decision, but his opinion carries significant weight.

Torre marvels at the numbers Surhoff is putting up at age 34 -- and Surhoff added to them last night, going 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs -- though he doesn't consider it a mystery.

"He takes good care of himself," said Torre, who strongly considered Surhoff for the 1997 team before choosing Texas' Rusty Greer. "Maybe fans may overlook him [he finished out of the top 10 in voting, behind teammates Albert Belle and Brady Anderson] but players don't and managers don't. They see what he does day in and day out."

Clark expected to return

Manager Ray Miller said he expects first baseman Will Clark to be available tonight against Toronto at Camden Yards rather than be forced on the disabled list with swelling in his left knee.

A magnetic resonance imaging taken this week didn't reveal any structural damage. Clark was scheduled to be examined again yesterday.

"I talked to him [Sunday] night and he seemed pretty encouraged," Miller said.

Even without Clark going on the disabled list, the club is faced with some difficult roster decisions. Lenny Webster appears close to coming off the DL, and the Orioles could carry three catchers if willing to go with 11 pitchers -- a move that's made easier with the approaching All-Star break.

Second baseman Delino DeShields was eligible to come off the DL yesterday, but Miller seems intent on playing rookie Jerry Hairston every day.

Around the horn

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said he intended to apologize yesterday to Greg Kosc for critical remarks made about the umpire after he left Sunday's game with heat exhaustion. Posada had ridiculed Kosc for being out of shape and accused him of expanding the strike zone as the temperature rose near 100 degrees. Kosc remained out last night. Miller hasn't warmed up struggling reliever Mike Timlin in the past three games to "freshen him up a little bit." He also was trying to do the same with Arthur Rhodes. The Orioles will wear their retro caps with the cartoon bird and white front panel for the Toronto series. They'll celebrate the 1960s, '70s and '80s with music from those decades and reduced prices on various items.

Pub Date: 7/06/99

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