No longer iron man Orioles' Ripken will be rested to break in young player

Posted: April 26, 2001

Baltimore's iron man will be allowed to rust a little this season, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove has decided.

Third baseman Cal Ripken, who set the major league record for consecutive games played, will play between "two to five times a week," to give more time to backup Mike Kinkade.

Ripken started last night at Detroit and hit a three-run home run, his first homer of the season, in Baltimore's 6-4 victory. Ripken's three-run homer came in a five-run fifth inning off knuckleballer Steve Sparks. The Orioles victory spoiled the Tigers celebrating their 100th anniversary.

Ripken had sat out two of the previous three games. "There are going to be some weeks when he's going to play three times, some weeks when he might play five times, and some weeks when he plays two times," Hargrove said.

Ripken has gotten off to a horrible start, batting .154 with six RBI in 52 at-bats before last night's game. Ripken got a late start in spring training because of a fractured rib. He had only 25 at-bats in camp.

There has been speculation this could be the last year for Ripken, who signed a one-year contract after last season. In February, he did not rule out the possibility he could retire during the season if he struggled.

Hargrove said the move wasn't related to the slow start. "We've got to find out about our younger guys," Hargrove said. "If we look up this summer and these guys haven't played, what we've done has gone for nothing. It's not performance-related on Cal's part. . .It's all predicated on what Kinkade has showed."

Ripken said he wasn't surprised by the decision. "I guess it would be a surprise if I had 20 hits in my first 40 at-bats," Ripken said. "The irony of this is that I'm feeling better now than at almost any time I can remember in the past few years. . .I need at-bats on the field to get going."

In other news:

DEVIL RAYS: Pitchers move

Pitchers Brian Rose and Jeff Wallace joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before last night's game against Kansas City and pitchers Travis Phelps and Dan Wheeler were optioned to TripleA Durham.

The Devil Rays also transferred pitcher Wilson Alvarez from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list. The lefthander missed all of last season with a shoulder injury and still is recovering from surgery last May.

Rose, a righthander who might get an opportunity to be Tampa Bay's fifth starter, was claimed off special waivers from the New York Mets on Tuesday. Wallace, a lefthander selected from Durham, will work out of the bullpen.

IN GAMES LAST NIGHT:

At Boston, Torii Hunter hit a three-run double in the 10th inning as surprising Minnesota rallied for a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox. Minnesota leads the AL Central at 15-4 after having the worst record in the league last year.

At New York, Carlos Guillen drove in three runs with a pair of two-out hits as Seattle beat the Yankees, 7-5, for their sixth straight victory. The Mariners, despite the offseason loss of Alex Rodriguez, have won 10 of 11 and have the best record in the majors with a 17-4 record.

At Chicago, Paul Konerko hit a solo home run in the 11th inning as the White Sox snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over Oakland.

At Toronto, Brad Fullmer hit a three-run homer and added a go-ahead infield single in the eighth inning as the Blue Jays defeated Texas, 8-5.

At Cleveland, Ismael Valdes got his first win since July as Anaheim defeated the Indians, 3-1.

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Russ Johnson hit a three-run double and Paul Wilson won for just the second time since 1996 as Tampa Bay held on for a 5-3 victory over Kansas City. *

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