Palmeiro is mildly miffed at O's Team's protected list sparks controversy

November 15, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said he was surprised and upset to learn yesterday that the club initially had left him off its protected list for Tuesday's expansion draft, but wanted to avoid adding more controversy to a turbulent off-season.

Club sources have indicated that Palmeiro's name was omitted from an early list put together by general manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone. Palmeiro later was included among the 15 protected players who cannot be chosen either by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or Arizona Diamondbacks.

An acquaintance of Palmeiro's faxed to his Texas home a copy of an article from yesterday's Sun that told of the Orioles' initial plans.

"I'm [ticked] off about it, but it doesn't really matter," Palmeiro said. "The guy who really counts made the decision to keep me, which is [owner] Peter Angelos. He's the guy who signs my paychecks and he's the guy who eventually makes the final decisions.

"I'm sure part of their thinking was they're not going to lose me because nobody's going to draft me. I'm sure that's probably the main reason. They thought, 'You know, he makes a lot of money. They're not going to pick him up and we can maybe protect him later on.' "

"We don't need any more controversy. I think we've had enough," he said, alluding to manager Davey Johnson's resignation last week. "We need to put everything in the past."

Palmeiro, who has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, will enter the final year of a four-year, $24 million deal next spring.

Despite a couple of prolonged slumps during this past season, he still totaled 38 home runs and 110 RBIs and became the first Oriole to hit at least 30 homers in three consecutive seasons.

He also took much of the heat for the team's failure to reach the World Series after going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-20 with men on base in the postseason.

"I don't want to leave Baltimore. I want to stay there because of Peter Angelos, because he's protected me before. He brought me there, and he's kept me there," Palmeiro said.

"Everybody knows I want to stay in Baltimore, and the decision to think about leaving me off [the protected list] is not going to determine whether I stay there or not. We'll work something out."

Outfielder Eric Davis, among the 11 veterans left unprotected, said yesterday that he would retire if chosen in the draft. "I don't have time to start over," he said from his Los Angeles home.

The Orioles have picked up Davis' $2.5 million option for next season, the announcement coming during the World Series on the same day he received the Roberto Clemente Award.

Given the size of Davis' contract, his age (35) and his return from June colon-cancer surgery, the club was confident that Tampa Bay and Arizona would pass.

Davis, who batted .304 in 42 games and homered in the American League Championship Series, said he expects to return to the Orioles next season.

Asked if he understood the logic behind the club's decision to leave him exposed, Davis said, "Absolutely. It doesn't bother me all."

Davis also said he has five chemotherapy treatments remaining. He moved the treatments, which he receives at UCLA Medical Center, back to Wednesdays after the season ended.

"I feel great," he said.

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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