Cal Ripken's 15-season tenure as the Orioles' shortstop ended yesterday, when the team signed free-agent shortstop Mike Bordick to a three-year contract. Ripken, 36, will be moved to third base, with his consecutive-game streak intact at 2,316.
Bordick, said Orioles general manager Pat Gillick, "is one of the premier shortstops in the American League, and, with Cal Ripken at third base, he gives us a very strong left side of the infield. I don't think many balls will get between Cal and Mike."
Ripken made the acquisition of the new shortstop possible by indicating to Bordick, in a telephone conversation Wednesday night, that he would not stand in Bordick's way. Bordick, 31, had said he would not feel comfortable joining the Orioles unless he got some sign of approval from Ripken.
Shortly after Gillick concluded negotiations with Bordick yesterday, he called Ripken to thank him for his help in luring the shortstop. "His phone conversation with Mike played a pivotal role in our ability to sign Mike," said Gillick.
Ripken has said that he felt he was playing about as well as ever defensively. But Gillick, perhaps believing what many in baseball feel -- that Ripken's range and throwing ability on plays to his right have diminished -- forged ahead with his plan to find a new shortstop, telling Ripken of his intention in a meeting Nov. 20.
Neither Ripken nor Bordick was available for comment last night.
Pub Date: 12/13/96