Ripken reflects

The Orioles aren’t playing tonight, so they’ll need to wait a little longer to end the first losing streak of 2011.

I’m still impressed that Jeremy Guthrie gave the Orioles six quality innings yesterday, less than a week after being hospitalized with pneumonia. That was one of the guttier performances we’ll witness on this club in any season.


If I had a vote, I’d want the Orioles to recall Brad Bergesen to make Wednesday’s start in New York. I think he gives you a better chance to win that game. And that’s not necessarily a knock on Chris Jakubauskas, who turned in his own gutty performance Saturday night simply by returning to the mound after wearing Lance Berkman’s line drive last April. I’m just reviewing their track records.

Bergesen isn’t pitching at the level that he’s capable, but he’s responsible for the Orioles’ last three complete games. Roll those dice.

If this team can make it through the road trip without another injury or illness, they should cover the lockers in plastic after the final game and break out the bubbly.

During my phone conversation with Cal Ripken last week (sorry if the name hit your toes when I dropped it), I asked for his thoughts on former teammate Mike Bordick, who will be inducted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame later this summer.

“One of the best teammates I ever had,” Ripken said. “I always liked his actions. You probably know him as somewhat of a personality at times, funny, but for the most part his actions do all the speaking. And nobody worked harder, nobody took more ground balls and constantly worked at it. Just the way he handled himself, the way he went about his job, the way he worked. It was easy for everyone else to stand out around him. He didn’t have to say anything. That’s what he was all about.”

Bordick will forever be remembered in Baltimore as the player who replaced Ripken at shortstop. Ripken willingly moved back to third base. This wasn’t Juan Bell or Manny Alexander. It was a player he always respected from a distance and knew could tighten up the infield defense.

Bordick has talked about the pressure that accompanied his arrival. It isn’t easy to move a legend. And he’s always been appreciative of the way Ripken accepted him and eliminated any awkward feelings that might have existed.

“If I remember right, I think it was (assistant general manager) Kevin Malone who asked if I’d mind talking to him. And my answer was, ‘Certainly not.’ I was happy to talk to him,” Ripken said.

“I knew the kind of person he was from playing against him, and he was considering coming to Baltimore. At that time, I looked at that side of the infield and how to make it better, thinking a different combination of things. Todd Zeile was at the end, so I compared all the options. And we had a chance to get Bordy, one of the most steady shortstops in the game. Makes all the plays, and all the plays when it matters most. I thought it was a good opportunity for us. And he needed to feel comfortable, so part of that was me talking to him. It told him everything was fine, come on over.”

Ripken will introduce head athletic trainer Richie Bancells at the Hall of Fame luncheon. Bancells will receive the Herb Armstrong award for non-uniformed personnel.

Ripken and Bancells have been close friends for many years, which might surprise people who can’t imagine baseball’s Iron Man spending much time in the trainers room.

“I was in there every day, but not always for treatment,” Ripken said.

“I had back issues early on in my career, in the minor leagues, mostly with alignment. And we had a trainer in Double-A who had a chiropractic background who helped straighten me out from time to time. Richie took the time to go to him and learn what it was that he did, and he learned how to manipulate it and put it back in place. We’d work through it. I can’t imagine if he didn’t know that technique, how difficult it would have been for me.

“He always took his job serious, all aspects of it. He wanted to do it absolutely right. And since we’ve always been together, we had a connection since the very beginning. He was at Bluefield when I came through. I had a very personal relationship with Richie as a friend, a trainer, someone I could really trust in all aspects. It was just good to have that sort of person in the clubhouse, to see every day, so I went in there every day. I didn’t always need him for treatment, but when I did, he was there for me.”

Bancells smiled when I relayed the story about the Double-A trainer. It actually was a chiropractor who, yes, doubled as the team’s trainer. Bancells always marvels at Ripken’s memory and attention to detail.

Bancells said he always knew when batting practice was about to start, because he’d tape Ripken’s ankles at the exact same time.

I found it amusing that Bancell’s daughter, Andrea, introduced herself to me at spring training and thanked me for mentioning her father’s upcoming induction in my blog, since she knew nothing about it. Her father never mentioned it.

I would have rented billboard space, but I’m an attention whore.

“He’s a proud person, but also a very humble person,” Ripken said. “I can see that happening. He probably waited a while to make sure it was for real and was going to happen. He’s cautious that way. He’s very understated in a lot of ways. He’d just say he’s doing his job. That’s the cool part about his humble nature, the way he looks at things in general. Everybody really enjoys him and respects him. I know I do.”

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