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Former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro Wants Another Shot At The Major Leagues

December 7, 2017
Do you think the Orioles could use a 53-year-old left-handed hitter? Apparently, Rafael Palmeiro thinks they -- and any other major league team -- could.
 
Palmeiro, who hasn't played major league baseball since 2005 with the Orioles, the year he became the highest-profile player at the time to be suspended for the use of steroids, thinks he can make this unlikely comeback.
 
"There's no doubt I can do it," he told The Athletic.
 
Palmeiro, who played 1,000 games and seven seasons over two stints with the Orioles and is one of five players in history with more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, isn't lacking for confidence.
 
"I've taken care of myself really well," he said. "I've been working out for years. Everything feels better than when I played."
 
Returning to the majors at 53 is unheard of, particularly after not playing at that level for 13 years.
 
Julio Franco, who last played in the major leagues for the Atlanta Braves in 2007 at 49, tried a comeback in 2014 for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League Baseball. Franco played seven games and hit .222.
 
But Palmeiro sounds as if he has loftier ambitions.

"If I go to spring training with a legitimate chance to make the team, I won't have to go to the minors," he said.
 
Would the Orioles consider giving Palmeiro an audition? 

"It would be an interesting story," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told The Athletic. "It's like tying your shoes. ... If you can hit, then you can hit."
 
Duquette will undoubtedly be asked about Palmeiro during the Winter Meetings, which begin in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Dec. 10.
 
Palmeiro was in the majors so long ago that he played in Wrigley Field's first night game in 1988. He even played at Memorial Stadium, which last housed the Orioles in 1991.
 
While Palmeiro would be thrilled to get a tryout with any team, the Orioles probably make the most sense. Not only because Palmeiro played for the club, but because his 22-year-old son, Preston, is a first baseman in the Orioles' minor league system.

Preston hit .253 with 13 home runs and 77 RBIs for Low-A Delmarva in 2017. Another son, Patrick, played three seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization and last year played for the independent Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
 
Rafael Palmeiro played a game with Patrick for another independent league team, the Sugar Land Skeeters, in September 2015. Palmeiro went 2-for-4.
 
The Orioles once gave another famous name a chance for an unlikely comeback. In 1991, 45-year-old Jim Palmer, who had last played in 1984 and had been elected to the Hall of Fame  in 1990, came to spring training, but he suffered a hamstring injury warming up for a Grapefruit League game. Palmer quickly ended his comeback.
 
Unlike Palmer, Palmeiro isn't in the Hall of Fame. Palmeiro has been penalized by the voters because of his failed steroid test, and in his fourth year of eligibility, he fell off the ballot after failing to receive the required 5 percent of the vote.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox