Is Rafael Palmeiro seriously considering an MLB comeback at 53 years old? Apparently
The disgraced slugger is still looking for redemption and closure after an unceremonious ending
Rafael Palmeiro is 53 and hasn't played in the major leagues since since 2005, but the former Orioles first baseman believes he can make a comeback in pro baseball. Yes, seriously.
According to a piece by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, Palmeiro has a desire to return to the majors in order to prove he can still play and -- maybe more important -- be able to go out on his own terms.
Palmeiro is one of only five players in MLB history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, but it comes with an asterisk next to his name. His departure from the game was stained with controversy, as he for tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2005 after vehemently denying any steroid usage during a congressional hearing earlier that year.
Palmiero was suspended by Major League Baseball, the Orioles sent him packing shortly thereafter to rid themselves of the distraction, and he never played again. His legacy was unmistakably tarnished.
Now, he's looking for redemption and closure.
And it appears the only thing in the way is just how serious he is about it because, in the mind of the former slugger, he doesn't seem too worried about his ability to still compete and make an impact on the diamond.
"There's no doubt in my mind I can do it," Palmeiro told Rosenthal. "I've taken care of myself really well. I've been working out for years. Everything feels better than when I played."
If Palmeiro does in fact go through with his comeback attempt, he'll have to put on a wildly impressive showcase to convince teams that he's worthy of a spot on a major-league roster. There's not a huge demand for 53-year-old disgraced designated hitters, especially ones who don't seem interested in spending time below the major-league ranks.
"If I go to spring training with a legitimate chance to make the team, I won't have to go to the minors," Palmeiro said.
Rosenthal spoke to a few anonymous MLB general managers who didn't seem optimistic about Palmeir's chances -- one said he wouldn't even entertain the idea, while another said Palmeiro "would need to dominate in an independent or overseas league for a team to even consider him."
However, Palmeiro certainly isn't lacking confidence and if he's still able to hit like he thinks he can, there could just be a team willing to give him a shot. If he can help a team win, that may overshadow everything else.
It's more than fair to be skeptical of his chances -- Palmeiro would be the oldest position player to ever play regularly, surpassing Julio Franco's record of 49 years old -- but there's no denying that, at the very least, it would be an entertaining spectacle to watch.
And, honestly, what does Palmeiro really have to lose? The best case scenario is that he makes a roster, reminds everyone he's an incredible talent, and gets to walk away from the game on his own terms while also resetting his Hall of Fame eligibility. (He dropped off the ballot in 2014.) At the very least, he can have a little peace of mind knowing he tried.
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