Day-night mix-up shines as Ripken's only streak fear


MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortstop Cal Ripken said yesterday that he doesn't have fears that his consecutive-games streak, now at 2,084 games, will end prematurely. But he has worried about making the mistake of thinking the Orioles were playing a night game when they actually were playing in the day, such as today's 1:15 start.

"I've had normal fears," he said, "of waking up someday and thinking it was a night game when it was really a day game. But I don't think that really applies to the streak too much, as just the responsibility to play.

"I've been having that [fear] long before the streak. You always double-check the itinerary, check the paper, watch 'SportsCenter' now to get the times right -- especially with the irregularity of the schedule now where you have 12:15 games in the middle of the week, and Sunday night games. You can't go on the assumption that the game is at 7:30 every night now.

"It's a matter of knowing where you're supposed to be and when you're supposed to be there, and over-worrying about it."

Mets told no on Ochoa

The trade talks between the New York Mets and the Orioles continued yesterday, and are expected to resume again today. The Mets, dangling slugger Bobby Bonilla, asked the Orioles for outfield prospect Alex Ochoa, but, according to one source familiar with the negotiations, the Orioles indicated Ochoa is not available. But sources on both sides say there is a desire on both sides to get this deal completed.

The Orioles want a power hitter they can plug into the middle of their lineup, and for the Mets, dealing Bonilla represents their best chance of cutting salary. They will have a hard time trying to move Bret Saberhagen, who will make $4.3 million next year, because the right-hander is often hurt and is having a poor year. Reliever John Franco, who nearly signed with the Orioles in the off-season, will make $2.5 million, and he too has little trade value.

But the Orioles want Bonilla, who makes $4.4 million this year and $4.5 million next season, and they haven't asked the Mets to eat any of his salary, something that distinguishes the Orioles from other clubs that have inquired about Bonilla. There is a market for Bonilla right now -- the Orioles want to consummate a deal quickly because of recent injuries to catcher Chris Hoiles and right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds -- and that may not be the case in the off-season, when salaries are expected to plummet even more.

The Mets have not yet asked about Orioles relief prospect Armando Benitez, but that could change.

Erickson mum on Twins reunion

Scott Erickson pitches against his former teammates for the first time today, and he was less than ebullient in discussing his emotions about the big day. "I'm not answering any questions until after the game tomorrow," he said.

Orioles manager Phil Regan said he didn't think it would bother Erickson. "Once you get on the mound, you forget about all that. . . . Like Kevin Brown against the Rangers the other night. I didn't see any unusual emotion in him."

But Regan said that in his playing days, he always wanted to do well when he pitched against the Dodgers, a team that traded him. "I always wanted them to feel like they made a mistake," he said.

High school outfielder signed

The Orioles signed 19th-round pick Brion King, an outfielder from Florida. They are close to signing first baseman Calvin Pickering, their 35th-round pick, from Florida. The Orioles have made some progress toward signing No. 2 pick Charles Alley, a catcher. . . . Jerald Clark, who leads the Twins with a .339 average, re-aggravated his sprained right knee and has been put back on the disabled list. . . . The Orioles adjusted their July 3 attendance figure from 46,560 to 46,536. Some patrons with complimentary tickets were counted as having paid.

Jack of all words

Former Orioles outfielder Jack Voigt originally was given a locker between ex-Orioles Mike Pagliarulo and Mickey Tettleton after he joined Texas in May. But according to Rangers manager Johnny Oates, Pagliarulo requested the chatty Voigt be moved, and so he was -- next to chatty Will Clark.

"Neither one is going to listen," Oates said. "They'll both be talking all the time."

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