Ripken updates organizational discussions

Cal Ripken confirmed tonight that talks are ongoing with owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail about a future role in the front office, but he isn’t prepared to place a timeline on his return to the organization.

“I love the fact that it’s an open exploration and we’re talking,” Ripken said in a phone interview with and The Sun.

“My goal truly was to be available to (son) Ryan, my kids, but you start to look at it and it’s a short period of time when he’s out the door and both are off to college. I think the talks are generating more, not on the short, short term, but actually what the long term would look like. There’s really no rush. They’re ongoing and progressing pretty nicely.”

Ripken said he would be fine with a secondary role in the front office before moving up the ladder.

“We have had some talks about learning and advising and being available when you can. It’s sort of a secondary position or an advisory position,” he said. “There’s a fairness on both sides - how much can you give, can you be involved as much as you need to be, or can’t you? Some of those issues need to be looked at. In general, the concept of transitioning is a healthy thing. We’ve talked about different advisory positions and ways to transition. Nothing has been set. You wouldn’t say it’s a trial effort, but certainly getting to know everybody in a different way and getting to be on the inside again. We’re talking about different advisory positions.”

Ripken can’t say with any certainty whether 2011 is feasible.

“I have a full load,” he said. “Finding a way to lessen the load is a challenge. If there are ways to do that, I’d certainly be open-minded to it. I have no indication when it might happen. I’m just happy having healthy, open discussions. That’s always a good way to start.”

Ripken often talks to Angelos two or three times a week “if schedules work out that way,” he said.

“I talk to Mr. Angelos on a number of subjects besides the Orioles. Sometimes, I have the chance to have dinner with him in that regard, but if I’m traveling out of circle or someplace at that moment, it can be a week to 10 days.

“We haven’t set a real urgent timetable. I’m just satisfied that we’re talking. I guess I’m more of a planner than somebody who would say, ‘Let’s just jump in and see what happens.’”

Here’s what won’t happen: Ripken won’t pursue the manager’s job.

“No, I couldn’t make that happen right now,” he said. “In some ways, if I had a magic wand and everything could work out, it would be interesting to consider and think about. But going back in and the time involved and the travel, I value the next two years, being around, too much to jump into that.”

Ripken consented to an interview one day before he’ll appear at a groundbreaking ceremony on the old Memorial Stadium site that will launch the latest endeavor of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

The foundation’s “Swing for the Future” campaign aims to build synthetic turf youth fields in several Baltimore locations over the next few years that can accommodate any sport and give kids a safe place to play. They’ll also feature elements of several major league ballparks.

The Y of Central Maryland will take ownership of the East 33rd St. field.

“We wanted to look at areas in need,” he said. “We had a couple of projects in the works outside of Baltimore, but we really wanted to get in Baltimore and say, ‘Look, let’s start here.’ The Memorial Stadium site became an opportunity and I said, ‘This must be meant for us to do.’ It’s the perfect symbol. It’s the same place where Billy and I had the chance to play, and all the great Orioles. It was important to me in a symbolic way. When this opportunity came about, it was a no-brainer.”

The hope is that the foundation can take this model nationwide once it’s established in Baltimore. A field is being built in Fredericksburg, Va., and others could crop up in Naples, Houston, Richmond and Seattle, just to name a few locations.

The first field, which will be a replica of Memorial Stadium, should be completed before the winter.

“Normally with these kinds of projects, you put a shovel in the ground and find something different and deal with it,” Ripken said. “But normally, construction can go pretty quickly. Its not a complicated project.”

Bill Ripken also will appear at tomorrow’s groundbreaking ceremony, along with Brooks Robinson, Artie Donovan, Senator Frank Kelly and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Minor league note: Felix Pie is 3-for-3, including two infield hits, at Double-A Bowie.

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