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When end comes, Ripken has a seat


CHICAGO - Cal came. He sat. He almost forgot his chair.

Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken received the first of numerous tributes before yesterday's game against the Chicago White Sox, beginning with a five-minute video tribute and the presentation of a vial of dirt and a green seat from old Comiskey Park.

At one point, Ripken sat in the chair and crossed his legs while being bathed in the applause from a crowd of 34,588.

"I didn't know what to do," Ripken said of being presented the chair.

"I thought I'd strike a retirement pose in the chair. It's a pretty comfortable chair. It's one part of my understanding of baseball that I haven't really felt - sitting in a chair watching a game.

"I did it a really, really long time ago as a kid watching games. Since I've been playing, I've seen it from a field perspective."

Ripken watched the video from the top step of the dugout, then trotted onto the field to be greeted by three-time teammate and current White Sox designated hitter Harold Baines and former Orioles general manager Roland Hemond.

Ripken will place the Comiskey dirt near the dirt he saved from old Memorial Stadium. A collector of "stuff" rather than autographs throughout his childhood and playing career, he will enlarge his collection during the next 13 weeks.

As the ceremony concluded, Ripken began to jog away when he was called back by Hemond to retrieve his chair.

Resuming his practice of signing autographs after a game, he gave his cap to a young boy almost smothered by a crush of fans.

"A little boy got trapped, and he was pretty upset. It's pretty overwhelming. I tried to think of the thing to present to him for his bravery."

Richard on schedule

Outfielder Chris Richard will have his sprained right knee drained today in what he anticipates being one of the final hurdles before he is activated from the disabled list Thursday.

Richard took batting practice Saturday for the first time since slamming the knee into the outfield wall at Camden Yards on June 19. He has resumed jogging, but has yet to sprint. A pocket of fluid around the knee prevents him from having complete range of motion with the leg.

"There's some pressure there that keeps me from bending it all the way," he said before yesterday's game. "I think everything is on schedule for me to come off" on Thursday.

Should Richard be activated Thursday, the likely corresponding move will be an option of rookie Larry Bigbie to Double-A Bowie.

The only thing preventing Bigbie's return from being certain is the status of Brady Anderson. The Orioles continue to downplay the possibility of outfielder Anderson landing on the disabled list after results of Thursday's magnetic resonance imaging of his right shoulder proved negative.

However, Anderson has yet to resume hitting because of soreness. He was only available for pinch-running duties yesterday and, according to Hargrove, may be another two days away from hitting.

Wasdin ready, willing

A bullpen that ran on fumes a week ago now finds itself bolstered by rest and the addition of veteran right-hander John Wasdin. Signed as a free agent after being released by the Colorado Rockies last month, he started for Triple-A Rochester before being promoted Friday.

Wasdin said he had several opportunities, but signed with the Orioles because, "I was impressed with the situation, the direction they're headed in and some of the people in the front office."

While pitching for the Boston Red Sox, Wasdin got to know special assistant Ed Kenney, who served as assistant general manager under Dan Duquette before leaving the organization last season.

Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley knows Wasdin after serving as special assistant to Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd last season. Wasdin also played in Oakland with fellow reliever Buddy Groom and shortstop Mike Bordick.

"Baltimore was one of the first places I thought of" after being released, Wasdin said. "It's a great place to play."

Wasdin was 2-1 with a 7.03 ERA in 18 games out of the Rockies' bullpen.

A clause in his contract with the Orioles stipulated he would be given his release if not on the major-league roster by July 1.

Wasdin said yesterday that he had told the organization he was willing to wait "another start or two" if the team could not find a spot for him by the deadline. A waiver never became necessary, however, as Jay Spurgeon was optioned.

Around the horn

Tony Batista dropped to No. 8 in the order and served as designated hitter yesterday. Batista suffered a rough game Saturday, committing two errors while going 0-for-4 in the Orioles' 4-1 loss. He entered yesterday 3-for-18 since the Orioles obtained him via a waiver claim from the Toronto Blue Jays last Monday. ... Jason Johnson drilled White Sox left fielder Carlos Lee in the left hand with a fourth-inning pitch, giving Johnson a team-high eight hit batters. Lee left the game for a defensive replacement in the fifth inning. ... The Orioles will not face former teammate Mike Mussina in this week's three-game series against the New York Yankees. Mussina had faced the Orioles in each of the teams' previous three series, going 2-1. Instead, the Orioles will face Randy Keisler, Roger Clemens and Ted Lilly. Limited tickets remain for the series. ... The Orioles have until 2 p.m. today to trade outfielder Delino DeShields, whom they designated for assignment last Monday. As many as five teams, most notably the New York Mets, have expressed interest in DeShields. If he is not dealt before this morning, the Orioles must place him on outright waivers, allowing a team to claim him without providing compensation.

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