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HERD ACQUIRES BILL RIPKEN

Baseball's labor strife has the rosters of all teams -- including the Buffalo Bisons -- mired in uncertainty. Yet it is readily apparent that the Herd's new parent club, the Cleveland Indians, is striving to put a highly competitive team in Pilot Field.

The Indians landed their 14th Triple A free agent Tuesday, signing infielder Bill Ripken and assigning him to the Bisons. Ripken, brother of Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, batted .309 with six RBIs in 32 games with the Texas Rangers last season. A hip injury put him on the disabled list on July 16, and he missed the remainder of the season.

Earlier this week, the Indians signed another free agent, Dan Pasqua, and assigned him to Buffalo. However, it remains unclear whether players signed for Buffalo will end up with the Bisons or become replacement players in Cleveland if the strike carries into the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Bisons (2-2) fell to the International League's Toledo Mud Hens, 3-2, Tuesday in an exhibition game.

Luis Lopez and Marc Marini both had a three-hit game for the Herd. Starter Daron Kirkreit was impressive in a three-inning stint, allowing five hits but also striking out five. All told, the Herd staff fanned 10 Mud Hens.

The Bisons play the Tucson Toros of the Pacific Coast League today in Winter Haven.

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