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Ripken out with groin strain

March 3, 1997

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ If it happened during the regular season, the news would have been shocking: Cal Ripken was scratched from the Baltimore Orioles’ starting lineup Monday because of an injury.

Ripken strained his left groin, hours before the Baltimore Orioles’ exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves. He aggravated the injury during infield practice and was removed from the starting lineup and replaced at third base by Willis Otanez.

Ripken, who has played in a major-league record 2,316 consecutive regular season games, also is expected to sit out the Orioles’ exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. But he said the injury was not serious.

``I was taking ground balls backhanded when my foot slipped on some loose dirt and I felt a little twang,″ he said. ``I would expect it’s minor, but this early in spring training there’s no sense taking a risk and making an injury any worse than it is.″

Ripken, 36, said he would have been in the lineup if the injury would have occurred during the regular season.

``If I had to play I could play,″ he said. ``But you don’t want to risk a little injury becoming a bigger one.″

Baltimore manager Davey Johnson also downplayed the injury, saying he removed Ripken as a ``precautionary measure.″

``He could go, but I told him to take a couple of days off,″ Johnson said. ``If it was the regular season, he would have played. I’m not worried about the streak being broken.″

Ripken hasn’t missed a regular season game since May 29, 1982. He broke Lou Gehrig’s long-standing record of 2,130 consecutive games in September 1995 and last year shattered the world record of 2,215 games held by Japan’s Sachio Kinugasa.

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