I had the opportunity to sit down with Cal Ripken Jr. on Saturday during his 5K run at Ripken Stadium. He found a tiny office inside the ballpark that, while hardly comfortable, provided a rare chance for him to relax.
The man looks exhausted. He has dark circles under his eyes that would cut the glare from the sun while trying to catch a pop-up. But he keeps pushing forward.
The demands on his time are unreal, but he's used to it.
"I guess you could look at it in the context of working out and lifting and running doesn't compare from a physical standpoint, but it certainly feels like it," he said. "It's more exhausting, the energy and adrenaline kind of rush and stimulation that you have going on."
It probably will come as a relief to Ripken when he finally sees his plaque next weekend in Cooperstown, even as some anxiety sets in.
"Fergie Jenkins told me that he thought it was more like Opening Day," Ripken said. "There's an anticipation that builds in spring training and your excitement level comes up. Many people handle it by nervousness and running around. Other people are ready to get it started and get it behind him. It kind of feels that way. There's that excitement for the live event.
"Personally, it's a little draining, but I think it's because your adrenaline is carrying you through, and then in those moments when the adrenaline goes down, you're like, 'Oh, God, I'm wiped.' "
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