Travis Fryman doesn't begrudge Cal Ripken's huge lead in the American League All-Star balloting one bit.
"Not in the least," he said last night.
The Detroit Tigers' 24-year-old shortstop believes that performance over the long haul is the biggest measuring stick when it comes to All-Star balloting.
That's why Fryman can roll into Camden Yards for a big three-game series with the Orioles and shrug off Ripken's insurmountable lead of 385,000 votes for a starting spot in next month's All-Star Game here.
Forget batting average and RBI -- Fryman leads the Orioles' Ripken by 62 points and 12 RBI after last night's 12-9 Orioles win -- and think in bigger, broader terms.
In only his fourth season in the major leagues, Fryman doesn't expect to beat out the man who already has two MVP awards in his den, who is chasing Lou Gehrig's legendary ironman record.
"I think he deserves the votes," Fryman said.
"[The All-Star Game] is as much about being consistent over a long period of time, what you've done, and being popular with the fans, as it is about anything. It's a fans game. The game's not for us. Over the course of Ripken's career, he has proven he is an All-Star, and he deserves the votes."
In the latest release of American League ballots, Ripken has 629,730 votes to Fryman's 244,085. That still represents the biggest position lead in the AL, although the Seattle Mariners' Ken Griffey leads the league in votes with 675,470.
Such is Ripken's popularity. On-the-field production would not suggest that kind of disparity. Fryman is hitting .284 with 10 homers and 46 RBI. Ripken, mired in a season-long hitting slump, is batting just .222 with seven homers and 34 RBI.
Fryman is hitting .380 with runners in scoring position, Ripken .250.
The one big advantage Ripken holds on Fryman is defensively, where he has fewer than half of Fryman's errors (17-8).
Despite the numbers, Ripken, in his 12th big-league season, is headed for his 10th straight All-Star start. Fryman was named to the AL team for the first time last year.
One of the first people Fryman wanted to talk to a year ago at the All-Star Game was Ripken.
"Cal's strong point obviously is his durability," Fryman said. "I asked him about the things he does. I really observed him as much as I did anything -- the way he handles himself, the way he prepares himself for games. It was very interesting."
Fryman would appear to be well on his way toward putting up numbers of longevity and performance. In two of his first three seasons with the Tigers, he hit at least 20 homers and drove in at least 91 runs.
Said Fryman: "I've got to believe -- and maybe it's naive -- that with time and consistent play, a player's popularity is going to increase because we travel to all these parks.
"Over time, I think fans will recognize -- as they did with Ripken or Rod Carew -- guys who played a lot of years who maybe a year or two didn't have the best numbers at the half. But they're still the stars. And that's who the people want to see."
AL ALL-STAR VOTING
Results through Monday for the starting American League team for the 64th All-Star Game, to be played July 13 in Baltimore:
1, Ivan Rodriguez, Texas, 251,865. 2, Sandy Alomar, Cleveland, 3, Mickey Tettleton, Detroit, 204,752. 4, Pat Borders, pTC Toronto, 194,506. 5, Brian Harper, Minnesota, 163,755. 6, Tony Pena, Boston, 126,814. 7, Terry Steinbach, Oakland, 121,403. 8, Chris Hoiles, Orioles, 64,272.
First basemen 1, John Olerud, Toronto, 275,823. 2, Mark McGwire, Oakland, 3, Cecil Fielder, Detroit, 203,130. 4, Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox, 191,144. 5, J. T. Snow, California, 142,004. 6, Kent Hrbek, Minnesota, 135,506. 7, Don Mattingly, New York, 118,301. 8, Rafael Palmeiro, Texas, 88,081.
Second basemen 1, Roberto Alomar, Toronto, 516,336. 2, Carlos Baerga, Cleveland, 199,845. 3, Chuck Knoblauch, Minnesota, 185,879. 4, Bill Ripken, Texas, 147,348. 5, Steve Sax, Chicago, 90,585. 6, Lou Whitaker, Detroit, 83,911. 7, Jose Lind, Kansas City, 76,205. 8, Rich Amaral, Seattle, 59,724.
1, Cal Ripken, Orioles, 629,730. 2, Travis Fryman, Detroit, 3, Juan Bell, Milwaukee, 135,905. 4, Ozzie Guillen, Chicago, 98,148. 5, Tony Fernandez, Toronto, 91,392. 6, Greg Gagne, Kansas City, 83,779. 7, Dick Schofield, Toronto, 83,085. 8, Spike Owen, New York, 70,460.
Third basemen 1, Wade Boggs, New York, 377,020. 2, Robin Ventura, Chicago, 3, Dean Palmer, Texas, 221,306. 4, Ed Sprague, Toronto, 129,911. 5, Edgar Martinez, Seattle, 120,189. 6, Terry Jorgensen, Minnesota, 98,148. 7, Kevin Seitzer, Oakland, 70,532. Leo Gomez, Orioles, 57,401.
1, Ken Griffey, Seattle, 675,470. 2, Kirby Puckett, Minnesota, 3, Joe Carter, Toronto, 341,027. 4, Jose Canseco, Texas, 273,826. 5, Juan Gonzalez, Texas, 245,731. 6, Dave Winfield, Minnesota, 238,194. 7, Albert Belle, Cleveland, 227,502. Rickey Henderson, Oakland, 167,665. 9, Devon White, Toronto, 160,707. 10, Kirk Gibson, Detroit, 133,786. 11, Ruben Sierra, Oakland, 102,698. 12, Brady Anderson, Orioles, 97,365. 13, Andre Dawson, Boston, 92,114. 14, Shane Mack, Minnesota, 89,414. 15, Rob Deer, Detroit, 75,749. 16, Kenny Lofton, Cleveland, 74,944.