BOSTON, AUG. 20 -- The Baltimore Orioles crossed their fingers and activated second baseman Bill Ripken from the disabled list today, while the unluckily twisted ring finger on Mark Williamson's right hand gave the club cause to believe the relief pitcher might be lost for the rest of the season.

As expected, the Orioles returned Ripken to the roster before tonight's game here against the Red Sox. He was batting .280 with 22 strikeouts in 286 at-bats when he went to the disabled list Aug. 4 with a stress fracture in his right foot. Ripken was among the first casualties in the team's recent rash of injuries, and he becomes the initial of the walking wounded to be restored to active duty.

Ripken was unsure Sunday whether he would be activated, since the Orioles usually have not brought players back from the DL on the first day they were eligible. But the club's need for Ripken's glove was glaringly evident over the weekend, and Manager Frank Robinson said today he was eager to have Ripken back in the lineup.

"You want to get him right back in there," Robinson said. "He's the kind of guy who can give you a little spark, and we sure need that."

Ripken, who hit .421 in his last 13 games before being sidelined, said he watched uneasily in front of his television set during the Orioles' 3-6 western road trip that concluded last week. "It was killing me," he said. "I hated being home."

Ripken's recovery was speedy, and he said he's feeling no ill effects. He had the foot taped today, but insisted that the injury won't hamper his play. "It's gone and done," he said.

To create room for Ripken, the Orioles optioned Jeff McKnight to Class AAA Rochester. McKnight finished his Baltimore tenure in a one-for-12 slump, but was seven for 21 overall and played four positions.

Meanwhile, General Manager Roland Hemond hinted that the team is not expecting Williamson to return this year. The reliever slipped on the mound Saturday as he delivered a pitch and fell on the finger to cause what X-rays later revealed to be a fracture.

The official diagnosis said Williamson will miss at least three to four weeks, but Hemond said: "We'll have to see. . . . We're not counting on anything for the rest of the season." Williamson was replaced on the roster by Jose Bautista.Telford Not Sent Packing

Anthony Telford's ascent from Class AA Hagerstown to Sunday's seven-inning, one-hit befuddling of the Oakland A's in his major league debut left the 24-year-old with a predicament. He knew he was remaining with the Orioles, but he didn't know how to pack his bags for a road trip.

"He had to ask me," Hemond said. "I told him I'd do it for him after what he did."