In his first public comments since undergoing season-ending back surgery Sept. 23, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken said tonight he hopes to begin baseball activities within two months, with the intention of being ready for spring training in February.

"I've recovered pretty well from the surgery," he said. "It feels pretty good. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but the plan is to spend a good four, maybe six weeks to let the soft tissue heal, slowly start an exercise program, then shortly after that pick up a bat.

"I would assume that maybe by December 1 or late November I can start doing some baseball things, and that's not too far off from what my normal schedule is in the offseason anyway."

Ripken, 39, had surgery to "decompress" the nerve inflammation in his lower back, a condition that forced him to go on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Despite missing nearly half the season, Ripken hit a career-high .340 with 18 homers.

"It was a great year. It was a discouraging year," he said. "Mentally, it was uplifting, and also the worst. I rediscovered a swing I had and was able to be productive in a limited number of at-bats. If I had my druthers, I'd like to see what would've happened if I'd had that swing over 650 at-bats. But that was unrealistic."

Ripken said he does not have any fear about what the future holds. "The fact that I'm walking around, feeling good right now are all good indicators," he said. "I don't have any fear of trying again."