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Ripken gets Cronin award, 'most prestigious' AL honor


Cal Ripken received the Joe Cronin Award for "significant achievement" from American League President Gene Budig before yesterday's game.

Ripken, who played in his 2,141st consecutive game yesterday, has been the focus of the baseball world since breaking Lou Gehrig's record earlier this month.

"It's the most prestigious award given by the American League. It was a pleasure to give it to Cal Ripken," Budig said. "He's helped many at a critical time. We in Major League Baseball are in his debt."

The award, named for the former AL president and Hall of Fame shortstop, was last given to Dave Winfield when he achieved his 3,000th hit in 1993. Past winners include Jim Palmer (1976) and Brooks Robinson (1977).

McDonald stint unclear

Manager Phil Regan confirmed Jimmy Haynes' start tonight but was noncommittal about a relief appearance by Ben McDonald.

"I'll kind of play it by ear," Regan said.

McDonald indicated Saturday that he was healthy and looking forward to pitching tonight.

Regan was playing it coy, but said as part of his recent agreement with his recovering starter if McDonald warms up he will pitch.

"I'm not going to warm him up and then sit him down," Regan said of McDonald, who is recovering from shoulder tendinitis.

Small-market stadiums?

Budig discussed several other baseball-related issues, such as the possibility of new stadiums in Seattle, Detroit and Milwaukee.

"We are more and more optimistic," Budig said. "The people realize that baseball has a significant economic and social impact on their communities."

Budig refused to broach the subject of Northern Virginia expansion but reiterated his support for Peter Angelos' Orioles.

"We feel very strongly about the importance of this franchise," he said. "We're very supportive of it."

He was mum about what he would have done about Ripken's record if replacement players had been used. Basically, the AL president said "wait for the book." He plans to include a Ripken chapter in an upcoming work.

Just splitting in the rain

Mike Mussina, Saturday's losing pitcher, had trouble getting his knuckle-curveball over during a rain-drenched 4 2/3 innings.

So he employed a relatively new pitch, a split-fingered fastball.

New York manager Buck Showalter mentioned after the game that he had never seen Mussina throw a "splitter."

Mussina said he has been experimenting with the pitch for about three starts now.

"The game gets boring," Mussina said. "You've got to keep it interesting by trying new things."

Rockin' Roland

The Orioles had a guest dancer during the seventh-inning stretch yesterday -- general manager Roland Hemond, who moved with the Village People's "YMCA," cheerfully waving a rolled-up Ripken growth chart out of the window of the owner's box.

Right all right with Brown

Jarvis Brown started in right field for the first time as an Oriole; he had started in center in two of the previous three games.

Brown, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Sept. 1, is pleased he is getting the chance to show the Orioles what he can do.

"Instead of sitting on the bench and getting sour, being out there playing, it's all a plus," Brown said.

Around the horn

The Orioles wives collected $21,400 during their Safe At Home telethon Saturday. . . . Bernie Williams struck out in the New York fourth after reaching base in nine straight plate appearances (5-for-5, four walks).

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