Rafael Palmeiro has his heart set on playing baseball again. He’s 53 years old and carries around a lot of performance-enhancing drug baggage, so you see how this very possibly is not going to the end the way he thinks.
On Friday, Palmeiro revealed the number of teams who have made him an offer — zilch.
All right, so Palmeiro can hit virtual homers in the cage at 53. But he’s still twice as old as Mike Trout and that gives plenty of people in baseball reason to pause.
Palmeiro was on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Friday morning and said, in fact, this comeback attempt might have to happen in Japan:
— MLB Network PR (@MLBNetworkPR) January 12, 2018
That actually makes a lot of sense. Sure, Palmeiro has 3,000 MLB hits and more than 500 homers — two of baseball’s most sough-after benchmarks — but just walking back into MLB at his age and with his rep might not be possible. We’ve seen that fans are willing to forgive the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez when they see them in different settings, be it as coaches or on TV. Palmeiro humbling himself and trying to make it Japan could have that same affect. And if he really can smash homers like he does in the batting cage, you can bet some MLB team will come sniffing around.
Another thing we learned from Palmeiro’s MLB Network chat: He swears this isn’t about the Hall of Fame. He fell off the ballot in 2014 after getting less than five percent of the vote. He hasn’t gotten the same type of support that the likes of Bonds and Roger Clemens have. They’re still on the ballot and hovering around 50 percent. Playing again in MLB could reset his Hall of Fame elibility, but Palmeiro said on MLB Network that isn’t his hustle.
“That’s not a factor at all,” Palmeiro said. “That time came and went and that is not an issue at all for me, that is not the reason I want to [comeback].”
Whatever the reason, it’s pretty obvious at this point, if it weren’t already, that this is an uphill battle for Palmeiro. Writing a new chapter for himself in Japan though? That could be interesting.
If nothing else, that could make a heck of a movie.
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