Palmer's steroid remarks irk O's officials

Orioles notebook

March 17, 2004|By Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko | Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

JUPITER, Fla. - Orioles officials said they were disturbed yesterday with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer's recent insinuations that Brady Anderson used steroids in 1996, the year he set the team's single-season home run record with 50.

Club officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they planned to discuss the matter with Palmer, who is on the team payroll this year as a television analyst. But a high-ranking team official said he doesn't expect there to be a serious reprimand.

"It'll probably be a slap on the wrist like the Yankees gave Reggie [Jackson]," the official said.

The New York Yankees scolded Jackson last week after he spoke out on the steroid issue. Commissioner Bud Selig recently issued a directive to all major league clubs to refrain from public commentary and speculation about the steroid scandal.

In an interview with 98 Rock (WIYY-FM) that aired Monday, Palmer said, "I like Brady, and it doesn't mean he's a bad guy because he took steroids. But I'm sure he wanted to enhance his performance."

Asked by The Sun to clarify his comments, Palmer said, "I said it's something baseball needs to deal with. I don't know if Brady took steroids. How would I know? But he did go from [16] home runs [in 1995] to 50."

Palmer also mentioned his suspicions about Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs in 2001, breaking Mark McGwire's single-season home run record.

"When Bonds goes from 49 to 73, you just wonder," Palmer said. "You're trying to have a level playing field and maintain the integrity of the game. I'm sure it was a great year for Brady, and it was a great year when Bonds broke McGwire's record, but you just wonder."

Reached via e-mail yesterday by The Sun, Anderson declined to comment.

Trade talks quiet

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie played down speculation that the club will trade right fielder Jay Gibbons or left fielder Larry Bigbie this spring.

Major league sources confirmed yesterday that Gibbons' name has surfaced in recent discussions between the Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, but those talks were said to be preliminary.

Beattie said it would take a lot for the Orioles to trade any of their young position players. The team's primary need is starting pitching, but by that they mean a No. 2 or No. 3 starter - not someone for the back of the rotation.

"We're not really looking for someone [in a trade] to be a fifth starter," Beattie said. "We want guys who have a higher ceiling than that. We want to give ourselves a little more depth and a little more experience. We don't need a fifth starter. We already have guys who can do that."

Loewen struggles on

The Orioles were trying to give 19-year-old pitcher Adam Loewen a confidence boost yesterday before sending him down to minor league camp. The result was another disaster.

On March 10, Loewen walked all four batters he faced. He took the mound against the Florida Marlins again yesterday and walked the first batter, hit the second, and walked the third.

Mercifully, a rainstorm came and cleared the field. Those three runners eventually scored, leaving Loewen's ERA at 81.00. "You always want to end on a positive note at all times," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It just wasn't meant to be. He didn't have it. But he'll be all right. He'll be fine. He got a little taste of it, and that's what you need."

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