Former MLB star Rafael Palmeiro, who left the game in disgrace after testing positive for steroids back in 2005, tells Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that he is seriously contemplating an effort to return to the majors. Of course, there are quite a few barriers for the left-handed-hitting first baseman, who is a dozen years removed from his playing days and is now 53 years of age.
It’s frankly hard to imagine how this concept could come to fruition. Any player of his age would make for an unlikely big leaguer: in the modern era, only Minnie Minoso has appeared past fifty years of age, and that was a promotional/honorary stunt. The ageless Julio Franco played at the relatively tender age of 49, though he wasn’t able to produce.
Palmeiro’s highly controversial past adds yet more obstacles; notably, he still has not admitted to intentionally using steroids to aid his performance, though he does acknowledge a positive test. And it’s also not quite clear what course he could take even if teams might be willing to look past the steroid cloud. Per Rosenthal, Palmeiro “does not sound willing to take any sort of indirect path to the majors.” Yet Rosenthal also cites one GM that suggests Palmeiro would need to show he can still hit in a stint outside of the affiliated ranks before he’d be considered.
As might be expected, Palmeiro says he’s in good shape and feels his body is up to the task. But that doesn’t lend much credence to the undertaking in and of itself. If there’s a hint of plausibility here, perhaps it’s in the comments from Orioles VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who says “it would be an interesting story” and would not dismiss the possibility of giving Palmeiro — a former Baltimore star — a shot at a return. That’s hardly a clear indication of interest, of course, but does suggest there are at least some teams (including the one Palmeiro played for when he was suspended) that would entertain the possibility.
Ultimately, we’ll just have to sit back and see whether there’s a way for Raffy to make good on his intentions. Those with interest in weighing the likelihood will want to give Rosenthal’s lengthy piece a look; it contains plenty of quotes from Palmeiro and his family members.