- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001

ARLINGTON, Texas Cal Ripken has received high praise and parting gifts and will continue to as his final season with the Baltimore Orioles winds down over the next two-plus months. But it's unlikely any opposing team will honor baseball's Iron Man as impressively as the Texas Rangers did yesterday.
In a brief ceremony before last night's series opener at the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers retired Ripken's locker inside in the visitor's clubhouse. Yes, his locker.
Emblazoned with a large, orange and black nameplate including his No. 8 and a plaque commemorating his final appearance in Texas, the locker will never be used again.
"We know what Cal's done on the field. But we wanted to do something a little different," said Rangers general manager Doug Melvin, who came up with the idea about 10 days ago. "The greatest thing about watching Cal, besides his playing ability, is watching him prepare for the game. And it starts right here at the locker. There's no one better. How he's prepared for the game is going to be a model for everyone else in baseball."
A few of the game's greats have had their lockers retired over the years by their own teams, but no one could recall a visiting player receiving such an honor.
The plaque was unveiled in a pregame presentation with Melvin, Rangers players Alex and Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro and former Baltimore and Texas manager Johnny Oates. The inscription reads: "In recognition of more than 20 years of outstanding achievement, the Texas Rangers are proud to retire the locker of Cal Ripken Jr. in the visiting clubhouse at The Ballpark in Arlington. This locker will forever recognize the intensity, passion and excellence that Cal Ripken brought to the game of baseball. Dedicated July 24, 2001."
"It's a cool honor, a very unique idea," said Ripken, who already has been honored in his last trips to Chicago, Atlanta and Florida and will be recognized again this weekend in Anaheim. "It's true: You do spend most of your time in here, and it's where all your friendships are made. It's a really nice honor."

Lunar eclipses Fordyce

When the season began, Brook Fordyce was the Orioles' unquestioned No. 1 catcher. Fernando Lunar was essentially Baltimore's third-string backstop behind Greg Myers.
As the season reaches the 100-game mark today, it's Lunar who has overtaken Fordyce as the Orioles' regular behind the plate.
"I would say that right now, Lunar is going to get the bulk of the playing time from here to the foreseeable future," manager Mike Hargrove said yesterday after penciling Lunar's name in the starting lineup for the third time in four games and the 11th time in 16 games.
The gradual shift of playing time is strictly performance-based. The 23-year-old Lunar, who had a half-season of major league experience coming into the season, entered last night's game with a .286 batting average and 12 RBI (.327 over his last 13 games). Fordyce, a 31-year-old veteran who has never had more than 333 at-bats in a season, holds a .196 average and 11 RBI despite having more than twice as many at-bats as Lunar.

Injury update

Right-hander Pat Hentgen (sprained elbow ligament) threw batting practice again yesterday, utilizing all his pitches for the first time. He probably will throw a simulated game this weekend in Anaheim and then head out on a rehab assignment.
Shortstop Mike Bordick (separated right shoulder) took batting practice off Hentgen and continues to make progress. Hargrove speculated that both players could be back in uniform within 2-3 weeks.

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