Ripken, Orioles discussing return

BALTIMORE -- Cal Ripken Jr. is exploring the possibility of joining the Baltimore Orioles as a part-time adviser, which would ease his transition into a permanent position after his son graduates high school in 2012.

Ripken, who turns 50 next month, has been meeting on a regular basis with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. The conversations have centered on finding the Hall of Fame infielder a position in the front office on the team he played for throughout his 21-year career.

Should they come up with a plan that would allow Ripken to remain dedicated to his family while serving the Orioles, he would be willing to get back in the game before his son, Ryan, graduates from Gilman School.

"If something does take shape, then I'll start to consider it. And I'll be honest enough to say this is the amount of time I have and these are the commitments that I have elsewhere," Ripken said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"The cool part is, we're thinking about all sorts of things. Is there an opportunity to advise with your free time? How would that work? And then what would that lead into? Where are we going with this? We're examining the possibilities in a real way. I'm satisfied with that," he said.

Ripken became known as the "Iron Man" for playing in a record 2,632 consecutive games. He was a full-time player in every sense of the word before retiring in 2001, and there's little doubt he would bring that same kind of dedication to the Orioles in the front office -- when the time is right.

The sooner the better for the Orioles, who haven't had a winning season since 1997 and currently sit in last place in the AL East with the worst record in the major leagues (29-59).

MacPhail is looking for a new manager, but it won't be Ripken, who has no desire to abandon his family before both his children are in college.

"It has some appeal to me, although in the short term it has no appeal to me because of the time commitment," Ripken said. "But in the bigger picture, sure, I'd consider that."

Ripken acknowledged that it would be foolish to be offered the job without experience, even though his father was a longtime manager and coach.

"All managers have to start at some point, maybe as a bench coach. There are many different ways to do it," Ripken said. "You learn and get experience as you go. It starts with your baseball confidence -- how you see the game and your experience in that regard. Not all players can think like a manager. Some can. I think it boils down to who you are as a baseball guy."

Ripken's conversations with Angelos and MacPhail, however, have focused on a job in the front office.

"They're exploratory talks, they're healthy talks, they're honest, open exchanges with no clear timetable on when that might take place," Ripken said. "I know what I value, and I know what I can commit to and what I can't commit to, and we discuss those things and try to find potential solutions. But there's no pressure here to make a deal and jump in."

Ripken relishes the idea of working with MacPhail, who immediately made an impression with his savvy and knowledge of the game.

"I really like him. I think he's a smart baseball guy. I like how he thinks. I like how he listens," Ripken said. "The whole reason I started to think about this was because of Andy. The whole idea was twofold: Things were getting close with Ryan, and I really like spending time with Andy."

Ripken's current focus is on his family and his health. After a recent visit to the doctor revealed a high cholesterol count, he decided to team with Cheerios to inspire people to take care of their hearts with the "Do What You Love" contest.

"As a baseball player, you're exercising all the time and running around, so the last thing you worry about is how you eat. You're burning off calories and your blood work came back perfect every time," Ripken said. "As you get older, you have to be a little more careful. So I've gotten into the habit of watching my diet."