Ripken's mom survives gunpoint scare

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Ripken's mom survives gunpoint scare

From Comcast SportsNet

ABERDEEN, Md. (AP) -- Cal Ripken Jr.'s mother told a neighbor that the man who kidnapped her at gunpoint, tied her up and blindfolded her didn't seem to know she was part of a famous baseball family as the two drove around together in her car.

The gunman, who has not been found, forced 74-year-old Vi Ripken into her silver Lincoln Continental Tuesday morning and she was found bound but unharmed in the back seat about 24 hours later near her home in Aberdeen outside Baltimore, police said.

She described her abductor as a tall, thin white man with glasses wearing camouflage clothing, but police had no other details. The FBI and Maryland State Police were also involved in the investigation.

Ripken told next-door neighbor Gus Kowalewski that the gunman didn't seem to know her son was the Hall of Fame infielder nicknamed "Iron Man" for playing in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year career with the Baltimore.

"He said he just wanted money and her car," Kowalewski said.

Investigators do not know the kidnapper's motive and there was no ransom demand for Vi Ripken's release, Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert said at a news conference.

When asked if police believe the kidnapper knew who he was abducting, Trabert did not answer, saying investigators don't know if the suspect has any ties to the Ripken family.

Kowalewski said he spoke with Vi Ripken later Wednesday morning and she told him the gunman tied her hands and put a blindfold on her, but said he wouldn't hurt her.

"He lit cigarettes for her, they stopped for food," Kowalewski said. "He said, I'm not going to hurt you. I'm going to take you back,' and that's what he did."

Kowalewski said Ripken told him the gunman originally planned to put tape over her eyes.

"But he didn't do that because she said please don't do that cause I'm claustrophobic,'" said Kowalewski, a 72-year-old retired autoworker.

Instead, the gunman put some type of mask or blinders on her, and she could see somewhat out the sides, he said.

Three years after voluntarily ending his Iron Man streak, Ripken Jr. retired in 2001. He is the chairman and founder of Ripken Baseball Inc., which he runs along with his brother, Bill.

He owns three minor-league baseball teams, including the Single A IronBirds based at the Ripken Baseball complex in Aberdeen, a middle-class area of about 15,000 people. Kowalewski said Ripken told him the gunman asked her about items in the car related to the Ironbirds and did not seem to know about the team.

Mike Hudson, 43, whose mother lives across the street from Ripken, said he was surprised the kidnapper came back to the neighborhood because police were swarming over the area about midnight.

"It's just hard to believe the guy came all the way back on the street and dropped her off. That makes me believe he was local, very local," said Hudson, who is staying at his mother's house while visiting with his daughter.

Ripken's car didn't appear to be damaged, he said.

"This has been a very trying time for our family, but we are grateful and relieved that mom is back with us, safe and healthy," the Ripken family said in a statement. "We want to thank everyone for their tremendous support, especially all of the law enforcement agencies that worked so hard and quickly."

Ripken's brother, Bill, played second base in the major leagues. The two were managed for a time on the Orioles by their father and Vi's husband, Cal Ripken Sr., who died in 1999.

The family said that it could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

After the gunman left, Ripken honked her car's horn until a neighbor found her, Kowalewski said. He said he was surprised the honking didn't wake him up. Someone reported a suspicious car to authorities and she was found, police said.

Vi Ripken is founding chairwoman of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which, according to its website, helps to build character for disadvantaged young people. Besides Cal and Bill, she has another son and a daughter.

The Ripken Baseball complex also is home to the annual Cal Ripken World Series for 11- and 12-year-olds. Cal Ripken Baseball is the name for the 5-to-12-year-old division of the Babe Ruth League.

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Nats get Solis back, still waiting for Harper's MRI results

Nats get Solis back, still waiting for Harper's MRI results

The Nationals offered no new information on Bryce Harper's sore left thumb or Daniel Murphy's sore left buttock on Monday. The results of Harper's X-ray are not back and Murphy's still shut down and out of the lineup for the seventh straight game.

They did, however, get lefty reliever Sammy Solis back from the disabled list. That was a nice boost for a team that is missing two of its best position players and one of its best pitchers in Stephen Strasburg.

Solis was their most effective lefty reliever when he landed on the DL on Aug. 16 with left shoulder inflammation. He threw two simulated games in Viera, Fla., including one on Sunday when he tossed 25 pitches.

Simulated games, though, only replicate so much. His goal now is simple: get as much work as he can in the last seven games to get up to speed before the playoffs.

"[A simulated game] is not quite a game. I think we all know that. I'm still feeling good and ready to go," Solis said. "Hopefully I'll get some game experience and get back on track for the postseason."

Since Solis threw on Sunday, he's unlikely to pitch in the team's opener against the Diamondbacks on Monday. That leaves six games and then the four days off before the NLDS begins on Friday, Oct. 7 to get work in.

That's not a long time, but the Nats will take what they can get from the left-hander, who has enjoyed a breakout season with a 2.35 ERA in 34 appearances.

"Hopefully we have a situation where we can get him into the game tomorrow," manager Dusty Baker said. "It doesn’t leave a bunch of time for us to get him sharp. But they told me that he’s feeling good and he threw the ball well.”

For Harper, the Nationals continue to wait. Usually X-rays do not take as long as MRIs to get the results back. So, it would be surprising if there was no update on Tuesday.

Like Solis, Murphy getting his rhythm back will also be important. He has just two at-bats since he hurt himself sliding on Sept. 17.

“How many at-bats he needs, that’s a toss-up between at-bats and him getting extra days to get healthy and get well," Baker said. "Which ones are more important: His legs to get healthy, or his at-bats, and are we risking that leg by pushing him too early? Murph knows himself. Murph has a strong mind. I’m just glad that we shut Murph down when we did, and we had the luxury of shutting him down when we did. Because if he had played any longer, he’d have been out for probably the entire postseason.”

Baker went on to say that he does expect Murphy to be able to play in the postseason. As for Stephen Strasburg, he said he still doesn't know.

NOTES:

-- The Nationals made a minor trade with the Pirates on Monday. They sent infielder Chris Bostick to Pittsburgh for catcher Taylor Gushue and cash considerations. Gushue was a fourth round pick in 2014 out of the University of Florida. He has a .231 average and .659 OPS in 243 minor league games.

[RELATED: Thoughts on the death of Marlins star Jose Fernandez]

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”