Cal Ripken Jr. said Tuesday night that talks with the Orioles about his potentially taking an advisory and secondary role in the club's front office are "progressing nicely," but he isn't sure his situation will be settled in time for the 2011 season.
"I love the fact that it's an open exploration and we're talking," Ripken in a phone interview with The Baltimore Sun and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. "My goal truly was to be available to [his son] Ryan and to my kids. But you start to look at it, it's a short period of time and he's out the door and both are off to college. The talks are generating more not on the short, short term, but actually what the long term will look like. There's really no rush. They are ongoing, and they are progressing pretty nicely."
Ripken, whose son is a rising junior at Gilman, has been speaking and meeting regularly with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
"It can be two or three times a week if schedules work out that way," said Ripken, who will break ground Wednesday on a youth-sized replica of Memorial Stadium on the stadium's original site as part of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation's "Swing for the Future" campaign.
"I talk to Mr. Angelos about a number of subjects besides the Orioles. Sometimes I have a chance to have dinner with him on that regard. If I'm traveling out of the circle or someplace at that moment, it could be a week to 10 days. We haven't set a real urgent timetable. I'm just satisfied we're talking. I guess I'm more of a planner than somebody who would say, 'Let's just jump in and see what happens.'"
The relationship of Ripken, one of the franchise's best and most popular players, and Angelos has been a popular topic ever since foxsports.com reported in mid-April that Angelos declined to hire Ripken to work for the team in a baseball capacity. The report, which cited multiple major league sources, said Angelos told Ripken that that he did not want the Hall of Famer to receive credit once the team returned to prominence.
Ripken denied that aspect of the report, and Angelos rebuked the story altogether, saying he would be open to the former player joining the front office but didn't think Ripken was interested in taking a secondary role to MacPhail or anybody else.
Ripken said Tuesday night that the two sides have been discussing "sort of a secondary position and an advisory position."
"We've had had some talks about learning and advising and being available when you can," he said. "There's a fairness on both sides — how much can you give, can you be involved as much as you need to be. Some of those issues needed to be looked at. In general, the concept of transitioning is a healthy thing. We've talked about different advisory positions and ways to transition. Nothing has been set.
"I don't know for sure whether it would include 2011 or whether we'd come up with a way to transition. I have a full load. Finding a way to lessen that load would be a challenge. If there were ways to do that, I'd certainly be open-minded to it. I have no indication of when it might happen; I'm just happy having healthy, open discussion."
Ripken acknowledged that watching the 2010 Orioles, who entered Tuesday night with baseball's worst record, has been frustrating, and he feels for the team. But he also credited the job MacPhail has done in assembling young talent.
There has been plenty of support for Ripken as the team's next's manager, but he said that he has no interest in that for now.
"I couldn't make that happen right now," he said. "In some ways, if you had a magic wand and everything could work out, it would be interesting to consider and think about. But I value being around the next two years too much to jump into that right now."
Ripken's current focus is on the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation's "Swing for the Future" campaign. The foundation's goal is to develop multiple ballparks in Baltimore City — future sites include Park Heights and Patterson Park — and take that model across the country. But Ripken said it is symbolic that it will break ground for the first one on the site of Memorial Stadium.
The artificial-turf field, which is expected to be completed by the winter, will be done in partnership with the Y of Central Maryland. The groundbreaking will occur at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at a news conference that will feature Cal and Bill Ripken, Orioles great Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Colts great Art Donovan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
"You want to look at areas of need and where we can do the projects," Ripken said. "We had a couple of projects in the works outside of Baltimore, and we really wanted to get into Baltimore and say, 'Look, let's start here'. The Memorial Stadium site became an opportunity, and I said, 'This must be meant for us to do it.' It was so important to me in a symbolic way."
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