Palmer fears comeback-ending injury

February 25, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer showed progress in his second day of workouts at Twin Lakes Park, but he conceded that his comeback attempt could not survive even a relatively minor injury.

"I can't sustain an injury and make this ballclub," he said, "so I will go home in a hurry if I get injured."

He wasn't talking about something as minor as, say, a blister. He has been pitching with one of those for the past few weeks. But anything that would keep him off the mound probably would send him back to Baltimore to prepare for another season in the broadcast booth.

Muscle strains are prevalent this time of year and who would seem more vulnerable than a 45-year-old who had gone six years between training camps, but Palmer said he felt fine after Day 2.

He attracted far less attention than the day before, even though his second 10-minute workout off the practice mound appeared to be much better than the first.

Palmer displayed increased velocity with his fastball, partly because he is working his arm into better shape and partly because of a change in the way he is holding the ball.

"I'm holding it farther out in my hand," Palmer said. "Yesterday, I was gripping it too hard. Now I've got the ball out on my fingertips."

The change was made because of the small blister on his right thumb. By repositioning the ball, he was able to avoid the blister and continue throwing. His fastball sailed up, but it definitely had picked up speed since Saturday.

"That's the way I thought I was throwing," he said, "but I talked to Cal Ripken [Sr.] and Elrod Hendricks, who have watched me for a long time, and they could tell I wasn't getting my thumb underneath the ball. It was a minor adjustment."

* The Orioles already have most of their players in camp, and the rest are due to report today and begin full-squad workouts tomorrow.

First baseman Glenn Davis will make his first appearance in an Orioles uniform and figures to join Randy Milligan and David Segui in early outfield drills.

* The club announced that Segui, Francisco de la Rosa and Luis Mercedes have agreed to contracts for the 1991 season. Milligan and Gregg Olson are at the top of a long list of players still unsigned, but there are 15 days remaining before the deadline for automatic renewal.

* Left-hander Brian DuBois, who underwent a tendon transplant to reconstruct his elbow last September, is expected in camp today to resume his rehabilitation program.

DuBois was not expected to pitch this season, but apparently is well ahead of schedule in his recovery. He already has begun a throwing program under the supervision of Orioles orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein.

* Outfielder Larry Sheets took some big cuts in the batting cage yesterday and says he is in the best shape of his career.

"He is in great shape," manager Frank Robinson said, "and he's swinging the bat very well."

Sheets has a legitimate chance to make the club as an extra outfielder, but he says he'll play anywhere the club wants him -- including behind the plate.

The Orioles once considered making Sheets a catcher and met with some resistance. Now, he's willing to give it a try if it will zTC prolong his major-league career.

* Robinson said he is not concerned about entering the season with a predominantly right-handed club.

"Sure, you want balance," he said, "but not just for the sake of balance. I think a right-handed hitter of any stature would have to have had a lot of success against right-handers throughout his life. Most of them are better against right-handers than left-handers."

Brady Anderson, Joe Orsulak and Sam Horn are the only left-handed hitters who seem certain to be on the Opening Day roster.

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