Ripken plays SS in final All-Star game

SEATTLE, July 10 -- Cal Ripken, Jr., playing in his final All-Star Game Tuesday night, received a surprise and unwanted gift seconds before the start of the contest -- a request to play the first inning at his familiar shortstop position instead of at third base.

Ripken, who made his reputation as baseball's record setting iron man while playing shortstop with the Baltimore Orioles, has played at third base since the 1998 season.


He has announced this will be the final season of his career and, despite a batting average of .240 in 225 at bats, was voted into the All-Star Game's starting lineup for a record 17th time.

With the American League players in the field preparing for the first pitch of the game, shortstop Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers walked over to Ripken and encouraged him to switch positions for the first inning.

Rodriguez had asked American League manager Joe Torre if the switch would be all right and Torre agreed.

Ripken, at first, indicated he did not want to move to shortstop. His lips were easy to read as he told Rodriguez, "I don't want to play shortstop."


But after looking at Torre in the dugout and seeing Torre motioning him to shorstop, Ripken finally relented.

The first batter of the game, Luis Gonzalez of Arizona, popped the ball in the infield and Rodriguez actually drifted over to the shortstop position to make the catch.

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