PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Cal Ripken's $6.3 million option for the 2000 season was exercised by the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, giving baseball's iron man at least one more year in his brilliant career.

Ripken, who turns 39 next month, entered Friday night's game against Philadelphia with a .311 average, 12 homers and 36 RBIs. He will make his 17th consecutive All-Star appearance and 16th straight start for the American League on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

Keeping with the pregame routine that has worked for him since he entered the majors in 1981, Ripken deferred comment on his contract until something more important was taken care of: batting practice.

``We are very proud to have an individual of Cal Ripken's stature with us throughout his illustrious career,'' Orioles owner Peter Angelos said. ``His accomplishments are unparalleled and he will always be thought of as one of the greatest Orioles of all-time.''

Ripken, who played in a record 2,632 consecutive games before asking out of the lineup last Sept. 20, is 53 hits shy of 3,000 and four homers away from 400.

He was batting .179 when he went on the disabled list for the first time in his career with lower back pain on April 20. Though some critics thought it was time for Ripken to retire, he is batting .332 since coming off the DL and has hit in 27 of his last 35 games with a .345 average.

He had the first six-hit game of his career on June 3, going 6-for-6 against Atlanta.

Ripken signed a two-year extension on April 3, 1997. The Orioles had until the All-Star break to exercise the option for 2000 or pay a $2.5 million buyout.