Palmer working his way into comeback-try shape

January 11, 1991|By Mike Preston

Former Baltimore Orioles great and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer apparently is serious about returning to the major leagues.

Palmer, 45, has been pitching batting practice for the University of Miami Hurricanes this week in Coral Gables, Fla., and apparently is impressed with his showing.

Palmer, who said he is in "March 1 shape," said he is hoping a major-league team, preferably the Orioles, contacts him.

"Will I get an opportunity?" Palmer said yesterday. "The only way is to show that you can still pitch. I've worked out every day since Nov. 1, and every time I throw it gets better and my velocity improves.

"My first priority, of course, would be to pitch for the Orioles because I played my entire career in Baltimore and live there," said Palmer, who is a television announcer for Orioles games. "Maybe something could be worked out where I could still broadcast the games and also pitch. I don't know. But I do know that pitching again in the majors is a long shot."

This is not the first time Palmer has talked about a comeback.

He was quoted in The Denver Post last Nov. 20 about making a return but a day later, in The Sun, denied the report even though he repeated many of the things he told The Post reporter.

"I'm totally committed," said Palmer, whose fastball was recently clocked at 86 mph. "I don't know where this is going to lead. It's not like I played for the Orioles last season and won 15 or 20 games and everybody is trying to sign me.

"Time will tell. Maybe I'll get an opportunity and maybe I won't. Either way, I'll walk away from this knowing myself better and have a better understanding of the young kids."

Palmer, who spent his entire career with the Orioles, won 268 games, compiled an ERA of 2.68 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.

He hasn't pitched in a major-league game since May 1984, when the Orioles released him. A return would make him the oldest player in the league, an honor belonging to Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan, who earned his 300th victory last season at age 43.

"My mechanics are coming along," said Palmer. "I have been working out with their [Hurricanes] pitching coach named 'Lazer.' He said, 'Your mechanics are bad for a guy that is going into the Hall of Fame.' I said, 'I'm already in the Hall of Fame.'

"He just said, 'Oh, really?' " said Palmer, laughing.

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