Door open for surgery on Ripken

With pain still present, procedure on his mind

August 06, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Third baseman Cal Ripken spoke optimistically yesterday about returning from a nerve inflammation that on Tuesday left him on the disabled list for the second time this season. But at the same time he could not discount the possibility of back surgery should the problem prevent his resumption of baseball-related activities within the next two weeks.

"Obviously, if surgery was the magical answer it will present itself," said Ripken, who downplayed the possibility when disabled by a similar condition in April.

"If it continues to reoccur, you have to look seriously at a way to stop it from reoccurring. Surgery seems to be an option there. I'm not convinced that's it at this point, but that becomes an option if somehow you go out to play and aren't able to keep the nerve in place."

Walking gingerly about the clubhouse yesterday after receiving treatment, Ripken said he was still in constant discomfort two days after receiving a cortisone shot administered by team orthopedist Michael Jacobs. Such discomfort is not unusual within that time frame.

He is also taking oral anti-inflammatory medication.

"It's the first ounce of pain I've had -- period -- in my back since I came back," Ripken said. "The irony is when I woke up Sunday morning, I felt really refreshed and ready to go. Sitting at a table it attacked."

In pursuit of 400 career home runs and 3,000 hits, he is left maddeningly close. Last night represented the 40th of 108 games Ripken has missed this season after ending a record run of 2,632 consecutive starts last Sept. 20.

"It almost seems like two separate careers," Ripken said. "I was able to pound it and hit it all these years. Maybe what you're seeing now is an accumulation of the pounding."

Ripken described his current pain as "not as debilitating" as that which put him on the disabled list from April 18 to May 12.

Ripken, who turns 39 later this month, stands at 399 home runs and 2,968 hits. His career-high .335 average, 15 home runs, .591 slugging percentage and 47 RBIs in 267 at-bats this season are indicative of his "enjoying being out there and being able to play freely."

Pub Date: 8/06/99

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