Rafael Palmeiro was the Cubs’ No. 1 draft pick in 1985.
He played in parts of three seasons for the team and then was traded to the Rangers in the deal that brought Mitch Williams to the Cubs.
Palmeiro played 17 more seasons, for the Rangers and Orioles, and overall hit 569 home runs and had 3,020 hits. His career abruptly ended in August 2005 when he was suspended for failing a PED test and then was sent home for the rest of that year by the Orioles.
This is all almost ancient history — more than 12 years ago. We haven’t heard much from Palmeiro since then; one of the last public memories of him is him wagging his finger in front of Congress and saying:
“I have never used steroids. Period,” Mr. Palmeiro said. “I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.”
Given the suspension, that statement might very well not be true. (Palmeiro claimed the positive test was the result of a “tainted B-12 sample.”)
I’m refreshing your memory on all of this because last month, Palmeiro said he wanted to make a comeback to baseball:
“Maybe 12 years later, if I can come back and prove I don’t need anything as an older player with an older body, then people might think, OK, maybe he didn’t do anything intentionally,” Palmeiro said.
I can see you rolling your eyes out there. Palmeiro is 53 years old. Even the best in-shape 53-year-olds likely don’t have the bat speed and hand-eye coordination needed to hit major-league pitching.
That isn’t stopping him:
Good to be back in the cage again. The comeback is real. pic.twitter.com/uA8FMjyTjv— Rafael Palmeiro (@Rafael_Palmeiro) January 5, 2018
I mean, sure, that looks good for a 53-year-old guy hitting in a batting cage. But facing 25-year-olds who throw 95 miles an hour and up? How’s that going to wind up?
I can’t see any team taking a chance on him, not a major-league team, anyway, although the linked article about the comeback above says:
Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette did not entirely dismiss the notion of giving Palmeiro a shot.
”It would be an interesting story,” Duquette said. “It’s like tying your shoes ... If you can hit, then you can hit.”
Palmeiro’s son Preston is currently a member of the Orioles organization. The 22-year-old first baseman hit .253 with 13 home runs and 77 RBIs while playing for the team’s Class-A affiliate, Delmarva, last season.
I suppose perhaps an independent league club might sign him just for the attention; it might sell some tickets. Maybe the Orioles, whose attendance sagged to 23rd-ranked in baseball last year, might think they could do that with Palmeiro at DH in 2018.
Whatever happens, this is one of the oddest comeback attempts I’ve ever seen.