Ripken's post-game sessions postponed


Cal Ripken's post-game autograph sessions have ended "indefinitely," according to club officials.

Ripken signed autographs for one hour and 45 minutes Friday night and many times during the season. The demand Friday was so great that the line snaked out of the stands and onto the concourse.

Too many fans went home disappointed, and too many police officers are required to maintain security, according to Orioles public relations director John Maroon.

K? "There are just too many logistical problems," Maroon said.

Hammonds gets the call

In a surprise move, the Orioles activated Jeffrey Hammonds )) (strained trapezius muscle) solely as a pinch runner and will do the same with Curtis Goodwin (smashed finger) tomorrow or Tuesday.

Hammonds, who has been on the disabled list with a bad shoulder since July 18, cannot hit or field, according to Regan and general manager Roland Hemond, but he can run.

Earlier reports had Hammonds out for the season.

But Regan, who had to use catcher Greg Zaun as a pinch runner Wednesday, said Hammonds may play as a pinch runner without risking injury.

The same is true for Goodwin, who is not ready to hit, according to Regan, but will be activated tomorrow or Tuesday as a pinch runner.

McDonald back in Baltimore

Ben McDonald has returned to Baltimore from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester.

Neither McDonald nor manager Phil Regan knows when, where or in what situation McDonald will pitch next. McDonald would like a major-league start.

"My mechanics are a little rusty," McDonald said. "The only way ** it's going to get better is to pitch. I felt I could get guys out here right now."

Regan is hedging on whether to put McDonald back in the rotation. "I kind of want to see how he throws on the side," Regan said.

McDonald's next scheduled start would be Wednesday -- Mike Mussina is pitching on Ripken's record-breaking game -- so McDonald may be starting in Rochester or pitching with the Orioles out of the bullpen.

Johnson gets political

Randy Johnson has started a campaign, not only about his candidacy for the Cy Young, but also for teammate Edgar Martinez for MVP.

"I feel like I have to get defensive," Johnson said. "People don't know what people in Seattle do, other than Ken Griffey Jr."

Johnson (13-2, 2.68 ERA) is a leading Cy Young candidate along with Cleveland's Jose Mesa, Boston's Tim Wakefield and Mussina. But the latter three pitchers, Johnson said, have the advantage of pitching in big baseball towns.

Recent shoulder soreness has caused Johnson to miss at least two starts. In the meantime, Johnson has lobbied for Martinez, who is hitting .365 with 43 doubles, 26 home runs and 101 RBIs.

"The last guys to put up those numbers are in the Hall of Fame," Johnson said.

Plans for Benitez

One pitcher who figures to be a key component for the Orioles next season is reliever Armando Benitez.

Benitez has learned a lot, according to Regan, but not enough to be handed the 1996 closer's job.

Since being recalled Aug. 4 from Rochester, Benitez struck out five Aug. 19 in Oakland, earned his second career save Aug. 23 at Seattle and struck out three of five batters Friday.

"Benitez has made some progress," Regan said. "He's made a big adjustment in his attitude. He's throwing more breaking balls now."

But he's not a closer yet.

"I was hoping he'd be farther along than what he is," Regan said. "He needs to cut down on his walks. He's averaging nine walks a game. If you want to be a top-flight reliever, you've got to be better than that."

Hall of Fame lineup

Special lineup cards will be used for Ripken's Sept. 5 and 6 games. The cards for both teams will come with five carbon copies that will be presented to American League vice president Phyllis Merhige after the originals are given to the umpires.

The carbons are for the Hall of Fame and other record-keeping purposes.

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