FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro
is leaving open the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Jose
Canseco, who said he introduced the first baseman to steroids in
1992 when both players were with the Texas Rangers.
Canseco cited Palmeiro as a steroid user in his new book. In an
interview on the CBS television show "60 Minutes,'' Canseco said
he injected the drug into Palmeiro.
Palmeiro issued a statement last month in which he denied he
ever used steroids, and he emphatically backed up that assertion
Thursday after his first practice of spring training. Palmeiro also
said he's considered hiring the law firm of Orioles owner Peter
Angelos to take legal action against Canseco.
"The one thing I can say is I have the best law firm and the
best lawyer standing in the wings in Peter Angelos,'' he said. "I
have options available for me. He stands behind me and he's ready.
I will look at all my options and I'll decide.''
Palmeiro, 40, ranks among the greatest hitters in baseball
history. The four-time All-Star has 551 career homers, 2,922 hits
and a .289 batting average. He would prefer to focus on preparing
for his 20th big league season, but the topic kept swinging back to
steroids during an impromptu interview session in the Baltimore
dugout at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
"I can't worry about those things. Along the way, there's
always going to be someone saying something about you, whether it's
true or not. You just go on,'' Palmeiro said. "My job right now is
to get ready for baseball. My mind has to be here.''
Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli told Palmeiro that he has the full
support of the team.
"It's totally unfair because it's always hearsay,'' Mazzilli
said. "I think in this country you're innocent until proven
guilty. They don't have to defend themselves. If you feel good
about yourself, you shouldn't worry about what people say.''
Palmeiro is at a loss in trying to figure out why Canseco chose
to include him as one of several players that used steroids.
"He and I grew up playing ball together in the Miami area, but
we never did anything together other than play on the same team,''
Palmeiro said. "We went our separate ways after high school and I
never saw him again until he was in the big leagues and I was in
the minors. He and I have never been close friends or anything. We
were teammates, but that's about it.''
Palmeiro initially was concerned that Canseco's accusation might
upset his two sons, ages 10 and 14, but that fear was unfounded.
"We were watching TV, and my oldest son saw it on the news. He
started laughing,'' Palmeiro said. "He's like, 'What's this guy
saying?' My kids understand that a lot of the stuff is made up.
(Canseco) has his reasons for accusing people, and he's got his
reasons for writing a book that's trying to bring our game down.
"This game was great to him. He was the only one at fault for
destroying himself. He should be thankful that he had an
opportunity to play.''