Cal Ripken Jr. reaffirms interest in joining Orioles organization

Hall of Fame former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. acknowledged again Tuesday having an "itch to come back to the big league scene" now that his son is closer to heading off to college.

Ryan Ripken will start his senior year at Gilman next month.

Asked whether this will give him more opportunities to get involved with the Orioles, Ripken said: "Since my youngest child, Ryan, is preparing for college, it does certainly open up some different possibilities in the next phase of my life.

"I don't know what that means, yet, but certainly, I get a little itch to come back to the big league scene," added Ripken, speaking to The Baltimore Sun in Washington, where the State Department announced he will host 16 teenagers from Japan who were affected by this year's earthquake and tsunami. He will also travel to Japan in November as part of his role as a goodwill ambassador for the United States.

Since retiring after the 2001 season, Ripken has consistently said he wanted to see his two children go off to college before getting more involved in the day-to-day operations of a baseball team.

"It certainly is a different phase in your life once you get your kids off to college," Ripken said. "In my own thinking, personally, when I retired from baseball, it was important for me to be there and to be flexible in my schedule where I could get him off to … college. I didn't have that. My dad wasn't afforded the luxury of doing that.

"When you're [adhering] to a baseball schedule, it's a very difficult one to to have the flexibility to watch games and watch your kids grow up. To myself, to my family, I made a commitment that I was going to be there."

Ripken had several discussions last year with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail about a potential position in the front office. The talks were more "open exploration," according to Ripken, and not focused on one specific role. Ripken said Tuesday that he hasn't had any recent conversations with Angelos.

"I've had ongoing discussions with the Orioles and Mr. Angelos for years," Ripken said. "We've always kept a good rapport and a good relationship. As the itch gets stronger, I'll have more serious conversations."

However, Ripken, 50, has said several times that he would prefer more of a front office role to an on-field position.

There is an expectation that the Orioles' front office could be shaken up after this season as several top executives are in the final year of their contracts. That includes MacPhail, director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan and director of professional scouting Lee MacPhail.

Andy MacPhail, who has headed the Orioles' front office since June 2007 and has a solid relationship with Ripken, has never said he wants to return for another season even if Angelos invites him back.

Angelos told The Baltimore Sun in March that MacPhail is "not going anywhere." However, the team is headed for a 14th straight losing season and another last-place finish, and MacPhail has drawn increasing criticism from a dwindling and restless fan base.

For his part, Ripken said he feels that the Orioles are still headed in the right direction.

"You can see the strides they're making," he said. "You can see the talent they're assembling. You can see the alignment that goes on, and then actually playing the game, you have to start to develop a chemistry with that group of players. And at some point, you have to expect success. So right now, I think the expectations were much higher than maybe they should be because of what [manager Buck Showalter] did, to be able to turn them around last two months of last year.

"So I think we all want to not want to look at the standings this time of the year and not feel like we're so far out of it where it's not important anymore. It hurts a little bit, but I think they're on the right track. I think they're moving in the right direction."

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