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Ripken again backs out of batting practice Spasms limit preparation, but don't endanger streak

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cal Ripken has been receiving treatment for back spasms the past two days, but said it's nothing out of the ordinary and won't keep him from playing.

"It's not severe at all," said Ripken, who hasn't taken batting practice since Monday. "My whole career, I've had times when my lower back has kind of gone out for whatever reason. When that happens, you start to spasm a little bit."

Suspicions were raised that the problem was more serious when manager Davey Johnson removed Ripken in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game. But Ripken said that had more to do with the weather and the Orioles' big lead.

"It was 8-2, and it was an opportunity with the heat and everything else to get a two-inning blow," he said.

"You just step back a little bit. You don't want to make it worse than it is. You get treated, try to relieve the spasms. It's been my experience that they go away and everything's fine. But if you don't get treatment on it, then you're asking for something much more major to happen."

"He had a little discomfort," Johnson said. "I thought he was loosened up and showed less discomfort late in the game than early. He was probably mad at me because if I'm going to take him out, he usually likes the other guy to get an at-bat."

Ripken, 36, who played in his 2,407th consecutive game last night, said his back felt better.

Reboulet waits his turn

Quick, who has the Orioles' only pinch-hit home run this season?

The answer: Jeff Reboulet, who reached the seats at Tiger Stadium on July 6 while batting for Roberto Alomar in the Orioles' 14-9 loss to Detroit.

A more pertinent question concerns Reboulet's next at-bat.

When's it coming?

The addition of infielder Aaron Ledesma from Triple-A Rochester gives Johnson more options, especially when it comes to late-inning maneuvering. And that directly impacts Reboulet, who had been the only spare infielder. And like Reboulet, Ledesma hits from the right side.

Signed as a free agent after five years in Minnesota, Reboulet is hitting .200 (18-for-90) with two homers and 16 RBIs. He has three hits this month, but six RBIs -- three on a bases-loaded double July 2 that beat Philadelphia.

"Nothing surprises me in this game," said Reboulet, who made his last start July 5. "They're trying to get the guy who can best help us and that's what you've got to do. I don't know how it impacts me. We'll wait and see."

Down period for Myers

It took nine days for closer Randy Myers to record his 300th save, July 1 against the Phillies at Camden Yards. He got another call three days later, which produced No. 301 in Detroit.

That gave Myers 27 saves in 28 opportunities this season. But he's in another holding pattern.

Myers remained in the bullpen during the Orioles' six-game losing streak that followed his most recent outing. He worked the ninth inning of Monday night's 9-5 win over Toronto, needing only six pitches. He has a 1.31 ERA, the lowest among AL relievers, and is nine saves shy of tying Rich Gossage for seventh all-time.

Lenny McGwire?

Who would have guessed that the longest home run by an Oriole this season would come from catcher Lenny Webster? His 440-foot shot to center in Tuesday night's 8-4 win over Toronto was his fourth of the season and 20th of his major-league career, which began in 1989.

Asked what he drank to give him such power, Webster laughed and said, "Water, just water."

"You don't try to hit a ball that far," he said. "You try to make as good a swing as you can. And a guy [Juan Guzman] whose throwing the ball pretty hard is going to dictate how far it goes. I guess it was a pretty short, compact swing. I didn't know it went that far."

Draftee rejects 2nd proposal

Outfielder Darnell McDonald of Cherry Creek (Colo.) High rejected a second contract proposal from the Orioles last week, scouting director Gary Nickels said.

McDonald, the 26th overall pick in last month's amateur draft, has signed a letter of intent to play football and baseball at the University of Texas. The first offer the center fielder/running back rejected was said to be near $2 million.

"I guess I'd be more negative than positive," Nickels said of McDonald, a player many teams coveted but considered unsignable. "I don't know what they're thinking. Maybe he's going to go to Texas to play football, I don't know."

No. 4, 5 step up

The chances of the Orioles ending their six-game skid, and exacting revenge on the Blue Jays for an embarrassing sweep at Camden Yards late last month, didn't look promising with their fourth and fifth starters taking the mound.

Looks were terribly deceiving.

Scott Kamieniecki and Shawn Boskie both pitched into the sixth inning in the two-game sweep.

"It was big," Johnson said of the production from the lower half of the rotation. "Kammy's been great. He kept us in there and the offense woke up. Boskie, he pitched like that against us [in the past]. We couldn't sniff him."

Around the horn

The Orioles' 25th straight sellout pushed attendance over 2 million for 44 dates, their second-fastest pace to 2 million. The remainder of this homestand is sold out except for day-of-game bleachers and standing room only. The Orioles are 14-0 on Tuesdays. Brady Anderson drew two walks and needs one more to move into sixth place on the Orioles' career list, surpassing Mark Belanger.

Pub Date: 7/17/97

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