Palmer to decide today on reporting

February 21, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer still has not given any indication whether he'll report to training camp with the Baltimore Orioles, even though he now can do so without endangering his broadcast job with WMAR-TV.

General manager Roland Hemond talked to Palmer last night, but said that the 45-year-old had some reservations and would not make a decision on whether to accept the club's invitation until today.

"He expressed some concern about being a distraction," Hemond said. "I told him that we weren't worried about that and shouldn't either, but he said he wanted to talk it over with Ron Shapiro and get back to me tomorrow."

The Orioles previously had stopped short of saying that they had made a formal invitation, but Hemond conceded yesterday that the invitation had been extended and that it was entirely up to Palmer to accept or reject it.

"That's the way I look at it now," Hemond said. "He wants to think about it. We had indicated what the terms might be if he made the ballclub, but that wasn't finalized."

Palmer said last week that he would not come to camp without a commitment from the club, but that was before WMAR-TV president Arnold Kleiner assured him that his broadcasting job would be waiting for him if he failed to make the club. Palmer can now continue his comeback attempt without putting his television career at risk, so why hasn't he jumped at the opportunity?

Last week, he expressed concern that the club might offer an invitation out of sense of obligation, but that would become irrelevant if he proved he could still get major-league hitters out. His appearance in uniform at Twin Lakes Park undoubtedly would be a major media event -- a distraction, perhaps -- but the Orioles knew that long before they asked him to come.

"He would be just one player trying to get ready, like everyone else," Hemond said. "There's no reason why he would affect anyone else. We had Bob Horner here and it wasn't a problem."

If nothing else, the presense of Palmer and non-roster invitee Mike Flanagan in camp would be a nostalgic reminder of championships past.

"That would be nice," Hemond said. "That would bring back some winning memories."

The question now is whether Palmer will balk at the possibility.

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