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Dinged Iron Man

Ripken could land on DL list with chronically sore back

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Posted: Friday May 12, 2000 09:43 PM

  Cal Ripken Jr. Cal Ripken Jr. may miss the weekend series with Boston because of a chronically sore back. AP

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Cal Ripken has again been sidelined by back pain, leaving open the possibility that baseball's Iron Man might be on his way toward another stint on the disabled list.

Ripken was held out of the Baltimore Orioles' lineup Friday night, and manager Mike Hargrove said it's possible that the third baseman will remain on the bench through the weekend. If the pain stretches beyond that, then the disabled list is a possibility.

"If we get to 7-10 days, I would imagine we'd look where we're at and try to make a decision," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.

Ripken played in a record 2,632 games before voluntarily ending the streak in September 1998. Last year he made his first two trips to the disabled list, both because of lower back pain, and underwent back surgery during the offseason.

The aftereffects of the operation, in addition to the wear and tear of playing baseball, proved to be too much to handle.

"I have nerve irritation caused by scarring tissue, along with too many dives and missing the ball," Ripken said, forcing a grin. "It's gotten increasingly worse. I guess I'll shut it down for a few days, let the inflammation die down and go at it again.

"I guess I should expect a few bumps in the road. The strategy now is to rest and take some medication."

For years, Ripken played without fail. Along the way, he overcame more than one sprained ankle, the flu and a host of bumps and bruises.

"The whole process is discouraging. I played my whole career with nicks and nagging injuries," he said. "This is different. ... If it keeps going in this direction, something worse can happen. I don't know what, but pain is usually a guideline that something is wrong."

Ripken began to feel increasingly uncomfortable last weekend and was used twice as a designated hitter in New York against the Yankees, the first time in his career he played DH.

He was at third base and hit a 370-foot homer Thursday night against Boston, but left the game well before the final out of the Orioles' 11-4 loss.

"In the fifth or sixth inning, it got as intense as it's been," he said.

All he can do now is take his medicine and try to relax.

"I don't know exactly how it's going to play out," Ripken said. "I'm pretty satisfied that a few days rest and medication will take effect."

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