Palmeiro catches his breath


Second day back with O's less stressful than first

Maine to get start today

August 13, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

There were no lines of television cameras documenting Rafael Palmeiro's entrance into Camden Yards yesterday. There were no packs of reporters watching his every move. And there were no teammates to greet after 10 days apart.

On his second day back following his suspension for a positive steroid test, Palmeiro had a little more breathing room and was subjected to a lot less scrutiny. When he spoke before last night's game in front of his locker, he was surrounded by a group of approximately 15 reporters, rather than the more than 50 that he faced on Thursday in the Orioles' dugout

"It was good," Palmeiro said when asked about the first day of his return. "It was stressful, but good. I was anxious to get back into the clubhouse and get with my teammates and get out on the field and do some baseball stuff.

"[My teammates] were really good. I wasn't really surprised that that's how they were because I talked to a lot of them on the phone throughout the 10 days. They were anxious for me to get back. That was a good thing."

Palmeiro again wasn't in the lineup last night against the Toronto Blue Jays, though manager Sam Perlozzo acknowledged that he'd like to get him in the lineup at some point this weekend. Perlozzo has already told Palmeiro that he'll likely sit on Monday because the Orioles are scheduled to face Barry Zito, the Oakland Athletics' tough left-hander.

Palmeiro, 40, took batting practice and did leave the dugout briefly when the benches cleared after Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera hit Eric Hinske with a pitch in the first inning. Palmeiro heard some boos, but mostly cheers on his brisk jog back to the dugout. He said before the game that he heard mostly support from the fans.

"It felt good," Palmeiro said. "It really did. The fans here in Baltimore are great fans. I've always said that. I think they are the best fans in baseball and I really appreciated their support."

Asked if the possibility that he disappointed Orioles fans was one of the toughest aspects of the suspension, Palmeiro said: "Let's not get that far ahead. Let time go by and see what happens."

Maine will get start

Rumored to be headed back up to the majors several times in the past year, John Maine finally returned to the Orioles' clubhouse yesterday and will be activated in time to make today's start.

The timing, however, came as a bit of a surprise to Maine, who had lost seven straight decisions at Ottawa and hadn't won since June 16.

"I was surprised because they have arms and people that they've brought up," said Maine, who will be pitching today on four days' rest. "They told me last night the flight was leaving today and they said hop on it. So I said, `I'll be there.' "

Maine had a 6-11 record for Ottawa with a 4.56 ERA in 23 starts, striking out 111 in 128 1/3 innings.

"It's been tough," he said. "It started off good, but the last month hasn't been that good. Still, it's just a learning process. I am still making my pitches and it happens. I'll come out of it some time."

In his only major league appearance last July, Maine, the Orioles' sixth-round selection in the 2002 first-year player draft, took a loss against the Minnesota Twins as he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

"Last year, it didn't go how I had planned," Maine said. "Hopefully, I'll get a better shot and an opportunity this time and I'll pitch better. It is just experience. You learn each level you go up that the hitters are better and you have to adjust to them."

Perlozzo, who had also considered taking Eric DuBose out of his long-relief role and giving him the start, said that Maine deserved another opportunity.

"We felt like it was his time," Perlozzo said. "He's been up before and he's been kind of the stalwart in Triple-A. He's kind of in line. We'd like to see him come up here and relax and pitch the way he's capable."

To make room for Maine, the Orioles optioned reliever Aaron Rakers to Triple-A Ottawa.

Around the horn

Expected to be the team's regular first baseman when the season began, Jay Gibbons made his first start at first base last night since June 15. ... As part of today's Latino Night festivities, which begin in the bullpen picnic area at 3 p.m., fans are invited to bring new and gently used baseball equipment to the game for donation to underprivileged children as part of the Orioles Advocates' annual Cardboard to Leather collection. Fans who donate a baseball or glove or make a cash donation of $10 or more will receive a Sammy Sosa bobblehead doll.

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