Ripken hopes take a beating

DL removal unlikely

All-Star `no' expected

July 09, 2000|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Still bothered by a nerve condition that caused his left leg to "explode" during a June 27 game in Boston, Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken is not expected to come off the disabled list when first eligible July 13 and apparently will announce today that he has elected not to play in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove confirmed yesterday that Ripken is not expected to be activated in time for next week's three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

"Do I think he'll be able to come off the disabled list when he's eligible? I'd be surprised, but who knows?" said Hargrove, who has kept abreast of Ripken's situation through head trainer Richie Bancells.

Ripken's streak of consecutive All-Star appearances will extend to 18, according to major-league officials, because he was voted to start through fan balloting.

The 18 appearances tie him with Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson for the American League record. Ripken, however, would not be considered a starter, ending an All-Star record string of 16 consecutive starts dating to 1984.

According to an Orioles source, Ripken intended to notify New York Yankees manager Joe Torre of his decision between games of the Yankees' subway doubleheader yesterday against the Mets.

Major League Baseball spokesman Phyllis Merhige was unavailable for comment, but a statement is expected today.

Nervous about the possibility of the future Hall of Famer injuring himself further, Torre last week attempted to diplomatically discourage Ripken from playing.

Ripken underwent a three-dimensional CT scan at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Friday. He had earlier undergone a magnetic resonance imaging that he said did not disclose any additional damage to his lower back. The team had not disclosed the results of Friday's exam by last night.

While Hargrove has sidestepped questions about the third baseman's participation in the All-Star Game, Ripken has told associates of persistent difficulty sleeping and has not attempted any baseball-related activities.

Team officials have consistently refused to answer questions about the severity of Ripken's injury compared with earlier this season when he missed a May series against the Red Sox before accepting a cortisone injection from Cleveland orthopedist Dr. Henry Bohlman.

Asked how long the club expects Ripken to remain out, Hargrove would not say.

Ripken said July 1 that he intended to adopt a less aggressive recovery plan with this latest complication, which he described as causing "fire" in his leg. He experienced frequent numbness in the limb, which he attempted to remedy by frequently shaking it between innings and at his position.

He also admitted sometimes hustling from the field after games to ice the leg and lower back. For several days in late June, Ripken wore a wrap from waist to ankle to help alleviate the burning.

Team trainers have been unable to do anything to remedy the condition. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications have been the only day-to-day tools used to treat the symptoms.

A second cortisone injection was administered by Bohlman June 29 and rest prescribed. Ripken admitted eight days ago that his goal of remaining off the disabled list this season may actually have worked against him as playing through discomfort may have aggravated the condition.

Ripken may still participate in Tuesday's game and could sit in uniform on the bench. The Orioles will learn today whether catcher Charles Johnson or shortstop Mike Bordick will be named to replace him on the active roster, though Torre is not obligated to replace Ripken with a teammate.

A concussion suffered by Seattle's Alex Rodriguez may have created an chance for Bordick to make his first All-Star team.

Orioles today

Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies

Site: Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 50/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: O's Scott Erickson (4-6, 7.32) vs. Phillies' David Coggin (1-0, 6.19)

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