Palmeiro hopeful the 'door remains open'

Rafael Palmeiro says he hasn't paid much attention to baseball's most recent drug scandal.

He says he has seen the news reports about former Baltimore Orioles teammate Jason Grimsley, who allegedly indicated in a federal affidavit that he himself took human growth hormone and other illegal steroids. But Palmeiro says that's about all he knows.

Whether the recent revelations make Palmeiro's explanation for failing a steroid test last season more plausible to the public remains to be seen. Palmeiro insists a liquid form of the vitamin B-12 that he obtained from teammate Miguel Tejada must have been accidentally tainted with the steroid stanozolol. Ten months after leaving the Orioles and almost a year after collecting his 3,000th career hit, Palmeiro's explanation remains unchanged.

"Yes sir, that's what happened. It's not a story; it's the reality of what happened," Palmeiro told the Baltimore Sun on Thursday in his first public comments since a federal investigation cleared him of potential perjury charges.

Testimony that players may have been using undetectable performance-enhancing drugs should demonstrate how unlikely it would be for a veteran to willingly take something as traceable as stanozolol, especially while the sport's new testing policy was under way, Palmeiro told the newspaper.

"With all the great products that are apparently out there that are undetectable, for me to take something like that -- when people take things that now aren't even being tested for, does it make any sense?" Palmeiro, who lives in suburban Dallas, proposed.

"I wouldn't take it, that's the answer," added Palmeiro, who in March 2005 told a Congressional committee investigating steroids in sports that he had never used any performance-enhancing drugs. "I said what I said before Congress because I meant every word of it."

Palmeiro declined to directly address allegations on the Grimsley affidavit, telling The Sun: "I'm not going to say what was being used in the clubhouse; whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. But it was not like it was in your face. [The media are] in there, too."

Palmeiro said he first started injecting liquid B-12 while he was with the Texas Rangers. While under investigation, Palmeiro said he was required to produce whatever he had taken in the past -- including creatine, power shakes and the B-12. He said he never intended to implicate Tejada, whom he still considers a good friend.

"That's almost like blaming my brother for something he didn't do," Palmeiro said.

A year ago this week, Palmeiro was closing in on his 3,000th hit. He eventually reached that plateau with a double in Seattle on July 15. Palmeiro and his family were secretly dealing with the news of the failed test during his quest.

"I never got a chance to really soak it in and enjoy it...," Palmeiro told the newspaper. "It seems surreal. Here we are almost a year later and it almost seems like 3,000 hits didn't happen.

"The tragedy of all of this is that it happened to me and it shouldn't have happened. It ruined my life and my career. That's the tragedy of this. Three thousand, it's just a number. It's just a game. The other deals with my life and my livelihood and my family and all that I stand for. All of that is gone."

What's next for Palmeiro? At 41, he said he works out regularly to stay in shape in case the opportunity arises for him to return to the playing field. He said he and his agent haven't aggressively pursued a comeback and that he has no idea whether teams would even want him.

Still, he hopes.

"I love baseball and the door remains open," he told The Sun. "There may be somebody interested and that would be great. ... I've never been a problem. I'm a good team guy."