Listen up: Now batting, Cal Ripken


Back from rib injury, third baseman says he'll be in lineup today

March 24, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

JUPITER, Fla. - Third baseman Cal Ripken said he'll be in the lineup today when the Orioles play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, ending weeks of speculation over when he would return from a fractured rib on his right side.

Ripken made his first road trip yesterday, accompanying the Orioles to Jupiter and taking batting practice before an 8-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He had planned on pinch hitting, but he decided against it after sitting for a prolonged period.

"Once you cool down, there's no sense taking the risk of starting it up again," he said.

Ripken joked about having splinters in the seat of his pants. "It's a tough bench here," he said.

The Orioles don't plan on his sitting much before Opening Day, though how many at-bats he receives depends on how his body responds to the additional strain.

"He's been swinging the bat well. He's moving well, taking ground balls. It's a matter of him getting to the point where he feels confident and thinks he's ready to go, and I think he's close to that," manager Mike Hargrove said.

"I'd hate to say `yes' tomorrow and then it may not be tomorrow, but I anticipate it being tomorrow."

Also to be determined is whether Ripken plays in the field, which is expected to happen. He's not favoring the rib area when reaching for balls or making throws to first.

"I would suspect so," he said when asked about playing third.

Assuming he can stay in the lineup, Ripken will make one of the spring's longest trips, to Viera, for games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ripken has been able to simulate most game-related activities, with the exception of diving for balls, something he'll wait to do until the situation dictates it.

The Orioles have eight games left, which should be enough for him to prepare for the season.

DeShields' knee examined

Left fielder Delino DeShields had a magnetic resonance imaging on his left knee yesterday and didn't travel to Jupiter because of pain he incurred from Thursday's game against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, Fla.

DeShields was injured while trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. He was blocked off the plate, which bent back his leg. When the discomfort increased the next morning, he requested a medical examination.

Hargrove and vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift said the MRI didn't show signs of damage, and DeShields is expected to return in two to three days.

Groom's back improving

Though still contending with some soreness, left-hander Buddy Groom hopes he'll be ready to pitch within the next few days after back spasms forced him off the field during Thursday's pre-game workout.

Groom can bend forward without the same level of pain but still feels a knot in his lower back.

"I'll get treatment and hope it's better tomorrow," he said.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, this is like one-half," Hargrove said. "You get a little cautious late in spring training with stuff like this."

To help him sleep, Groom took a muscle relaxant and placed pillows under his knees to keep his back straight. "That loosened it up a little bit," he said.

Three named to O's Hall

Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, who has spent more time in an Orioles uniform than any other person, former pitcher Mike Boddicker and former general manager Hank Peters have been named for induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Hendricks, in his 33rd season as an Orioles player or coach, was voted in by the veterans committee of the Oriole Advocates. Boddicker went 79-73 with a 3.73 ERA for the Orioles from 1980 to 1988. Peters, the GM from 1975 to 1987, was named to the Hall as winner of the Herbert E. Armstrong Award, given to non-uniformed personnel who distinguish themselves with the club.

The three will be formally inducted in ceremonies before a game Aug. 26, bringing the Hall's membership to 44.

Around the horn

THE NUMBER: 2 - Orioles who reached base yesterday in six innings against starter Darryl Kile. Greg Myers singled and walked, and Jay Gibbons doubled. The rest of them made the long trot back to the third base dugout.

INJURY UPDATE: Reliever Alan Mills threw yesterday in Fort Lauderdale after giving his right shoulder more time to rebound from Wednesday's one-inning appearance - his first of the spring after having arthroscopic surgery in September. Mills said he made about five tosses Thursday before deciding his arm was too sore to continue. He was told it was "normal" soreness. The Orioles have him scheduled to pitch today in Fort Lauderdale. "You can throw all you want," Hargrove said, "but you get that one time in competition and it's amazing what a little rush of adrenalin does for you."

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