Streaky Palmer is deep into upswing Ranger's 18 HRs, 58 RBIs lead AL third basemen

June 25, 1996|By FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dean Palmer doesn't want to say too much about his hitting streak. He doesn't want to "break it down too much."

But Rangers manager Johnny Oates knows why Palmer is so hot: "It's the haircut."

Palmer, who was 8-of-13 (.615) during last weekend's series against the Boston Red Sox, has been sporting a buzz cut of late. He was batting .305 entering last night's game against the Orioles at the Ballpark in Arlington and was leading American League third basemen in home runs and RBIs.

But Palmer, who was hitting about .330 in early June last season before rupturing a biceps tendon and missing most of the second half, isn't about to analyze his recent success. He'd like to just enjoy it.

"You go through hot streaks all the time," Palmer said. "I'm just in a groove right now."

Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo believes that the streak is just Palmer being Palmer.

"He's back to being himself," Jaramillo said. "He's back to being Dean Palmer. He could make excuses, but he doesn't. I don't think there are really any changes.

"He's just back to being himself. Deano has a lot of ability. He is a power hitter and an average hitter."

In his first four full seasons as a major-league player, Palmer hit .236 with an average of 25.5 home runs and 72 RBIs. Entering last night's game, he had 18 home runs and 58 RBIs in 69 games. The Rangers led the majors with their .297 team batting average.

To that end, Palmer should be favored to be selected for the AL All-Star team, but is third in the voting behind the New York Yankees' Wade Boggs (681,121 votes) and the Cleveland Indians' Jim Thome (541,186) with 364,343 votes. All-Star starters will be announced Monday and reserves will be announced July 2.

Making the All-Star team "would mean a lot; it would be a thrill to me," Palmer said. "But that [the numbers] doesn't necessarily mean you are going to go."

Oates, a coach at last season's All-Star Game, said he thinks Palmer should be a strong candidate to play in the July 9 event in Philadelphia.

"You'd better believe it," Oates said. "He's playing great. He's hitting the long ball, driving in runs. It would be nice for him to go; he's certainly deserving of it."

But given a choice between season-long success or making the All-Star team, Palmer said: "I think you're probably better off putting a good season together than making the All-Star team."

Regardless of the results of the All-Star balloting, Palmer is having the most balanced season of his career and the Rangers have no intention of tinkering with success.

"He's swinging the bat real well," Oates said. "He's a very streaky hitter. There are times when you can't get him out. This is one of those times."

Maybe it is the haircut.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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