Ripken needs Iron Man finish for 3,000


Playing 11 of 12 games would put him in top 7


September 26, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - With 12 games remaining in another fourth-place season, the Orioles' Cal Ripken needs to appear in 11 to become only the seventh player in major-league history to reach 3,000. Manager Mike Hargrove indicated yesterday that he intends to keep Ripken in the lineup, with the possible exception of one game of the Oct. 5 doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.

Ripken is on the verge of joining Pete Rose (3,562), Carl Yastrzemski (3,308), Hank Aaron (3,298), Ty Cobb (3,034), Stan Musial (3,026) and Eddie Murray (3,026). He is expected to pass Willie Mays for seventh place Saturday in New York.

"We'd like to do that. I talked to Cal about that. I don't know if we can or not, but we're going to try," Hargrove said.

"We'll just wait and see. He may not play one of those games [of the doubleheader]. It depends how he feels that day."

He may not play every inning at third base, either.

Hargrove said he's thought about moving Ripken to shortstop, where he won both of his Gold Gloves, during one of the seven remaining home games. Tony Batista could start at third, then have him swap places with Ripken, who redefined the shortstop position.

"We'll maybe run him out there for one inning," Hargrove said.

Yankees manager Joe Torre did it in the first inning of this year's All-Star Game after Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez suggested that he trade places with the future Hall of Famer.

Grooming Ryan

Because of B.J. Ryan's age and relative inexperience, Hargrove hesitates to limit the left-hander to a specialist's workload despite the decidedly better numbers he possesses against left-handed batters.

Left-handers are batting .195 with two home runs against Ryan, compared to .277 with four homers by right-handers. Ryan has 12 walks and 34 strikeouts against left-handers, 17 walks and 12 strikeouts vs. right-handers.

Ryan, 25, retired the only batter he faced on Sunday, New York's switch-hitting Bernie Williams. He finished up Monday's win in Boston with a scoreless ninth and got out both hitters in a frantic eighth inning last night (one left-handed, one right) thanks to a fine defensive play by Jerry Hairston.

"We've found over the course of this year that B.J. is most consistently effective getting him into the game and getting him out, not running him back out there," Hargrove said. "But I think as he gains experience, he'll get better at that.

"B.J. may never get beyond that, but if he never does, he's still pretty good at doing [matchups]. But I think he's got more to offer than that."

Hargrove has noted that after Ryan throws 20 to 30 pitches, his stuff the next day is "noticeably different, not nearly as crisp."

"If you can keep him anywhere from 10 to 25 pitches, he still has his good stuff the next day," Hargrove said. "Again, it's just a matter of development. He's a big, strong guy anyway. You'd think it's as much a mental thing as anything else."

The club won't make the same mistake of attempting to smooth out Ryan's awkward delivery.

"We tried to do that last year and totally messed him up. We had to send him out to get him straightened out again," Hargrove said. "There are some things about certain people's deliveries that make them effective. He really hides the ball well. You don't see the ball well off him, especially from the left side, but also from the right side, which makes him less of a matchup guy."

Ripken memorabilia

A limited-edition Cal Ripken Jr. retirement baseball is being made available to the public. Only 5,000 will be produced, at a cost of $34.95. The balls include the official Ripken retirement logo, along with a color photo of him.

Each ball also contains various career achievements and the inscription "Orioles vs. Red Sox, October 6, 2001, Limited Edition of 5,000" along the sweet spot.

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation will receive $3.50 from each ball, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-345-2868, or by visiting

The Baltimore Post Office is offering a picture postmark in honor of Ripken's final game. The postmark reads, "Iron Man Station, October 6, 2001, Baltimore, MD 21230" and will be applied at no charge to any item with first-class postage (more than 50 cancellations will cost 5 cents each). Mail-order requests, available for 30 days, should be sent - along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope - to Iron Man Station, Main Office Window Services, USPS, 900 E. Fayette St., Baltimore, MD 21233-9715. ... USA Sports Network is offering commemorative Ripken retirement baseballs at $20 each, with profits going to the American Red Cross. Order by calling 888-408-4764.

Around the horn

First baseman David Segui, who didn't make the trip, was scheduled to have another magnetic resonance imaging on his left knee. ... Ripken's two children, Rachel and Ryan, will throw out the ceremonial first pitches before tomorrow's game. Former Red Sox greats Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans will be on the receiving end.

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