Perlozzo to welcome back Palmeiro, but is it in best interests of Orioles?

September 18, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

ORIOLES MANAGER Sam Perlozzo says he still expects - and welcomes - Rafael Palmeiro's return before the end of the season, though I can't understand why it is in anyone's best interests.

"I don't think it's a real detriment," Perlozzo said. "Raffy in the dugout is great. He roots for his teammates. He knows that he's not going to be out there every day."

Personally, I thought Raffy looked even better in that luxury box at The Ballpark in Arlington, where - if he still considered himself an Oriole - he could have suited up with his teammates instead of acting like a fan of the opposing team.

Perlozzo said Friday that he came to the conclusion that Palmeiro needed to go home the night he went to the plate in Toronto with plugs in his ears.

"I knew something needed to be done, and I called him into my office the next day and said, `Let's get healthy and then let's go from there,"' Perlozzo said. "I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn't know it was going to be that hard on him. I didn't realize he was going to take it as hard as he did."

Obviously, there were a lot of people who thought he should stay home after his 10-day suspension for testing positive for the steroid stanozolol, especially when it became apparent that he would neither come clean or come forward with an explanation for how the banned substance entered his system.

He continues to maintain that there is an explanation, but his manager doesn't think we're going to hear it this season, even if Palmeiro rejoins the Orioles for the final homestand.

"I don't think he would do that at this point," Perlozzo said. "Raffy doesn't want to become a distraction."

Very thoughtful of him, but it's probably a little late to worry about that.

Oh, and by the way, I'll believe it when I see it. I don't think Palmeiro is going to show his face around here again, and I've got to figure that Sammy Sosa only stops by to pick up his personal effects.

There is no reason for either one to set foot on the field again this year. The only good that can come out of the final two weeks of this season is the opportunity to look at some of the young players who have found their way to the majors during the second-half collapse.

Palmeiro will attempt to come back and play somewhere next year, despite the conventional wisdom that he won't want to face the ugly music he got a taste of in Oakland and Toronto.

WBAL Sportsline host Steve Davis disagrees, so we have made a gentleman's wager. If Palmeiro stays home, I owe Steve my undying respect and admiration. If Raffy shows up in spring camp somewhere, I can just keep treating Steve the way I do now.

It's always fun to listen to golfer Gary McCord, whether he's providing expert commentary on a major golf event or delivering a postmortem after a round on the Champions Tour, as he did following Friday's opening round of the Constellation Energy Classic at Hayfields Country Club.

McCord is just getting up to speed after another season of television work, and he was - by his admission - all over the place on his way to a solid 69.

"The rust is off physically," he said, "but the mental rust is ensconced like barnacles on the brain."

Frankly, I didn't think professional golfers were vulnerable to the "mind monsters" that attack the rest of us at critical times during a round of the most frustrating game known to man. Apparently, I was misinformed.

"If you did any kind of cranial expedition through mine, you'd run like hell," McCord said. "I need a team of clinical psychologists to get through the myriad of 18 holes."

I find it easier to identify with Canadian golfer Norm Jarvis, who locked his keys - and his golf clubs - in his rental car an hour before he was scheduled to tee off for the first round.

Tournament officials found him a ride to the golf course while caddie Kelly Murray stayed behind to wait for a locksmith. When it became apparent that help wouldn't arrive in time, tournament security chief Jim Mitchell asked a police officer to break a window with his nightstick.

"It took him about 14 swings," Murray said. "He just kept decelerating, like he couldn't bring himself to do it. We finally got out a tire iron and got the job done."

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