Sharp trainer cuts short Palmeiro pain, O's skid

SIDELIGHT

June 06, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

A good team sometimes gets big assists from people who never get into uniform.

Take Orioles trainer Jamie Reed, for example. If not for his skill, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro might not have been in the lineup yesterday against the Chicago White Sox.

As it happened, Palmeiro was able to shake off the effects of a painful ingrown toenail on the big toe of his left foot, and go 3-for-4 with two runs to lead the Orioles past the White Sox, 8-5, at Camden Yards.

Palmeiro, who hit his 12th homer of the season -- a two-run shot to right -- to go along with a single and a double, expected to miss his second straight game when he walked into the clubhouse yesterday morning.

"I told [manager] Johnny [Oates] I'd do whatever I could to get in, but this morning I could hardly walk," said Palmeiro.

However, Palmeiro said he soaked his foot, took some painkillers, then let Reed cut a 2-inch long patch out of his left spike, giving Palmeiro's sore toe more room.

"It made the biggest difference," said Palmeiro. "Sometimes, the pressure is worse when you're wearing tight shoes, but that [cutting out the patch] was the key."

As the day wore on, Palmeiro said, he found that the toe felt better.

"I just felt I needed to play. The team is struggling, and the more I played the better it felt. There was no way I wasn't going to play, even if I had to limp."

Before he grounded out in the eighth yesterday, Palmeiro reached base nine straight times, with seven hits and two walks.

In addition, he reached base in 12 of his last 14 overall plate appearances and had nine hits in 10 at-bats against White Sox pitching, dating back to last weekend's series.

"I haven't hit them well in the past. They have the best pitching staff in the league, and it was good that I could have a good game against them," said Palmeiro, whose average rose eight points to .350.

Palmeiro is now hitting .541 with five homers and 10 RBIs in nine day games at Camden Yards, and is hitting .479 overall in day games.

"I still don't feel like I'm driving the ball like I want, but I'll take it. can't complain," said Palmeiro.

Palmeiro's performance keyed a resurgence in the middle of the lineup, as he and Harold Baines hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to help close a 5-1 deficit. The Orioles began play having lost seven of their past nine games.

Said Palmeiro: "We needed this win. This is as down as we've been all year. We've been struggling, but it hasn't been so bad because the other teams haven't been looking so good either."

Palmeiro also made an important defensive contribution as well. With no one out and runners on first and second in the second, Lance Johnson smacked a line drive down the first base line. Palmeiro snagged it, then stepped on the bag to double off Warren Newson.

"That's pretty big. If that gets through, they probably score two runs right there," Palmeiro said.

Someone quipped that for the $30 million the Orioles will pay Palmeiro for the rest of this year and the following four seasons, he could stand to look more stylish than he did with a hole cut out of his shoe.

"Whatever it takes, baby. I'm not out there for looks," Palmeiro said.

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