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Palmeiro returns to Orioles after suspension

BALTIMORE -- There was no apology, no mention of the s-word.

Rafael Palmeiro returned from a 10-day suspension Thursday eager
to play baseball for the Baltimore Orioles, yet unwilling to
discuss the positive test for steroids that tarnished his name,
perhaps forever.

"I want to say that I'm happy to be back. I'm anxious to get
back on the field and playing the game that I love very much," he
said. "It's been a tough time for me and my family over the last
couple of weeks, and at this time I've been instructed by my
attorneys not to comment on the situation. The time will come soon,
hopefully, that I can explain my situation."

Palmeiro did not play Thursday night in the Orioles' 4-2 win
over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

After watching from the dugout, he said, "I haven't done
anything in 10 days so I'll need a couple days to get back into
it."

Palmeiro was suspended by Major League Baseball on Aug. 1 for
failing a drug test. Information on the case has been forwarded to
Congress; for that reason, he will not address his situation.

He did, however, position himself in the Baltimore dugout in
front dozens of cameras, reporters and microphones to talk about
his feelings and to speculate how he might be received by the home
fans.

Palmeiro has said he has no idea how steroids got into his body,
and promised to fully reveal his side of the story after the
Congressional investigation is complete.

"Congress is going over all the stuff right now and I am just
going to wait on that situation to be over with," he said. "I'm
just taking it one day at a time."

Major League Baseball has told the House Government Reform
Committee that it will turn over documents related to Palmeiro's
case Friday.

"We'll begin reviewing them immediately. It's hard to say how
long that review will take, because we don't know what's coming at
us. We don't know how many documents, how detailed they'll be, what
questions might arise," said Dave Marin, spokesman for committee
chairman Tom Davis, R-Va.

"I don't imagine this taking weeks. The chairman should have a
conclusion sometime early next week," he said.

At Davis' request, Palmeiro authorized baseball to turn over
information about his failed drug test.

Davis wants to investigate whether the player might have
committed perjury when he testified under oath to Congress that he
hadn't used steroids.

Palmeiro's agent, Arn Tellem, said Wednesday that the star first
baseman would not address his case for now.

"It would not be appropriate to comment while the House
Committee on Government Reform is doing its work," Tellem said.

Asked about that stance, Marin said: "There's nothing related
to this committee that would prevent Rafael from speaking to
anybody."

Palmeiro said he barely did any baseball-related activities
during his suspension, is unsure when he will play and uncertain
how he will be received by the fans in Baltimore.

Palmeiro received a standing ovation at Camden Yards on July 25,
his first day back home after becoming the fourth player in major-league history to get 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. There was
supposed to be ceremony on his behalf of the Orioles' first baseman
this Sunday, but the team canceled it at Palmeiro's request.

"I'm sure in the next couple of days I will get back out there
on the field," he said. "As far as the fans, you know these are
great fans. I've always enjoyed playing here. These are the best
fans in the game and I hope they can understand my situation right
now. I'll accept how they react."

While the Orioles took batting practice, Palmeiro signed
autographs for fans behind the Baltimore dugout -- something he does
not usually do. A young girl carried a large orange sign that read,
"Welcome Back Raffy."

Not all the fans were so forgiving.

Four fans walked into the stadium together wearing orange
jerseys with the words, "Hall of Shame" in black letters on front
with image of a syringe underneath. Palmeiro's No. 25 was on the
back.

"I don't feel good about the fact he hasn't spoken out yet. I'd
like to hear from him," said Garrett Liskey of Washington, D.C.
"I think because he's a star and he did testify before Congress,
he does need to speak to the fans and give his side of the story --
the sooner the better."

Liskey's friend, Michael Riordan, was adamant in his displeasure
of Palmeiro's decision to avoid the issue.

"It's going to be resounding boos, and I'll be one of the
loudest booers in the place," he said. "It's almost like he wants
to just slip back on the field and kind of act like nothing
happened. It just really smells bad."

Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo figured some fans would
welcome back Palmeiro without compromise, and that others would
express anger over his failed drug test.

"He's going to get mixed reviews, there's no question," said
Perlozzo, who replaced fired manager Lee Mazzilli four days after
Palmeiro's suspension began. "There's going to be a bunch of boos
and we're hoping for a bunch of cheers. And that's going to happen
everywhere. He's going to have to get through it, and so are we."

When Palmeiro arrived at the Baltimore clubhouse Thursday,
Perlozzo asked him if he wished to address the team.

"He said no, he'd rather go around individually," Perlozzo
said. "Emotionally, he's been through a lot. He thought it would
be better if he did that. He said he would tell everyone he was
sorry about the distraction."

Still, he was delighted to be back in uniform again.

"I've been playing baseball now for 20 years and this is all
that I have done. This is all I know," Palmeiro said. "It was
tough being away. But it was good to see my teammates. They are
happy that I am back. And they're anxious for me to get back on the
field."