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Ripken’s Eyes Opened to Love of Shortstop

Now the hand-wringing can stop. The furor is over. Baltimore Oriole third baseman B.J. Surhoff will be back from the disabled list soon, his sprained ankle sound again.

Cal Ripken Jr. won’t be moving to third.

“I don’t know if the whole issue is resolved,” Ripken said. “But now that B.J. Surhoff is going to be back the window has closed and I’m going to stay at shortstop.”

Tuesday, Oriole Manager Davey Johnson told Ripken he wouldn’t be moving and Ripken hit a career-best three homers. Mere coincidence?

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“If I’ve got to hack him off to have him hit three homers every night, I’ll try to do it,” Johnson said. “Maybe I’ll ask him to DH tomorrow.”

Said Ripken: “I guess the possibility of moving from shortstop made me realize how much I loved playing shortstop. Sometimes that has a way of motivating you.”

Friday, Ripken was still amazed he hit three homers in one game.

“There was no way you could have predicted it,” he said. “I had never done it, so the possibility of hitting three was farfetched.”

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Lee Smith, dealt to the Cincinnati Reds Monday, told new Manager Ray Knight: “Thank you for rescuing me. Don’t worry about me. I’m just glad to be out of there and I’ll do anything you want to help you in any way. The Angels promised me something [the closer’s job after he returned from his knee injury], then didn’t do it.

“And they were talking bad about the old man.”

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Right-hander Steve Ontiveros, sidelined since spring training because of elbow trouble, made a rehab start for Class A Lake Elsinore and gave up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. He made 51 pitches. . . . The Angels designated right-handed reliever Todd Frohwirth for assignment and activated Mark Langston and Mark Eichhorn from the disabled list. Frohwirth had an 11.12 earned-run average in 5 2/3 innings. . . . The club also signed catcher Matt Merullo to a minor league contract and assigned him to Lake Elsinore. Merullo batted .282 in 76 games for Minnesota last year.


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