- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Cal Ripken withdrew his name as a candidate for general manager of the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, saying "the timing wasn't right" to make the jump from the playing field to the front office of a major league club.

Ripken, who in recent weeks publicly had declared his interest in replacing outgoing vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift, yesterday called Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos and removed himself from consideration, citing his already heavy workload.

"As exciting as the opportunity is, I am heavily involved with my youth initiatives, the [minor league] project in Aberdeen and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation," Ripken said through a spokesman. "I discovered during the process that, for me, the timing just wasn't right."

Though baseball's Iron Man would have been a popular choice to take control of the Orioles' much-maligned front office, insiders privately questioned whether he was the best candidate for this job at this time, given his lack of any previous experience as a general manager.

The overwhelming majority of those being considered by Angelos have previously held major league GM positions or have been working their way up through major league front offices. Jim Beattie, who formally interviewed yesterday, was the Montreal Expos' vice president and GM from 1995 to 2001.

Just as he was the one to initially approach Angelos about becoming a candidate for the job, Ripken unilaterally took himself out of the running yesterday. He called the Orioles owner at his law office, the first time the two had spoken in several days, and informed Angelos of his status. Ripken never officially interviewed for the position.

Angelos did not return phone calls to his office yesterday.

Ripken has been extremely busy since retiring from the Orioles at the end of the 2001 season. He has overseen the construction of both a minor league stadium and a youth complex in his hometown of Aberdeen, purchased a Class A team and moved it to the new stadium and continues to be involved in the day-to-day operations of Ripken Baseball.

Ripken long has expressed a desire to one day run a major league club, but he noted during the World Series that he was not interested in managing or coaching because of the time commitment involved. A general manager's position would require less travel but a comparable time commitment.

Angelos' focus now will shift elsewhere. Yesterday he interviewed Beattie, the one-time GM of the Expos who resigned Oct.31,2001, but returned last spring to serve as a special assistant to Major League Baseball-appointed GM Omar Minaya.

Beattie, 48, has considerable experience and a strong reputation within the sport after helping build the Expos' talented young roster under extremely tight budgetary constraints. A pitcher with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners in the 1970s and '80s, he was the Mariners' director of player development from 1989 to 1995.

Beattie, the second man to formally interview for the job, declined to comment yesterday out of respect for Thrift, who continues to run the Orioles' front office even while potential replacements are being interviewed.

Arizona Diamondbacks assistant GM Sandy Johnson is scheduled to interview with Angelos today, with others to come later this week. Johnson, who has been with the Diamondbacks since their inception in 1998, has been involved in the game for years and is considered a strong evaluator of talent, but he has kept a relatively low profile through it all.

Al Avila, an assistant GM with the Detroit Tigers, became the first candidate to interview on Monday.

Ripken's removal from the race could be a boon to Mike Flanagan, the former Orioles pitcher and current broadcaster who also is in the running. But the Orioles may have lost their chance with Flanagan; he interviewed for the second straight day yesterday with the Boston Red Sox, who are considering him for both their GM and other front office positions.

Like Ripken, Flanagan has no previous experience in management, but Red Sox president Larry Lucchino told the Associated Press that the retired left-hander "is off the charts with respect to other standards."

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