It's a little premature to say the Orioles are holding a spot in the rotation for Jim Palmer, but they are going to take at least one more look.
After missing connections for the better part of a month, Palmer finally auditioned for the Orioles and a few other clubs in Florida yesterday. Though the results were inconclusive, they were far from discouraging.
After talking to Dick Bosman, the Orioles' Triple A pitching coach who observed Palmer, general manager Roland Hemond said the club would take another look. Hemond talked to the Hall of Fame righthander last night.
"We plan on taking a look at him again," said Hemond. "He's going to throw again either Friday or Saturday. We'll keep in touch and have somebody there. He threw well enough to warrant another look."
Palmer seemed satisfied with his 15-minute workout at the University of Miami yesterday, but he expects more when he throws this weekend.
"I think it went pretty well," said Palmer, 45, who hasn't pitched professionally in six years. "I was pleased. I felt fine, my arm feels good -- but I'm not the judge. It's not like I pitched last year.
"It was the first time I've pitched like that in a month, and I'm sure I'll throw better the next time,"
Bosman was guarded in his appraisal. "I'd say he threw about average or maybe a little below," Bosman said of Palmer's velocity. "He was a little inconsistent with his breaking ball, which is an indication of inactivity. But he did break off a couple of good ones."
Average velocity in the major leagues is considered to be 84-85 mph, which is about how hard Palmer was throwing when the Orioles released him early in the 1984 season.
Montreal and Toronto were among the teams that had representatives on hand to watch Palmer yesterday. There are indications that some teams might be willing to extend a spring training invitation, but Palmer says that might not be enough to continue his bid to become the first Hall of Famer ever to play in the big leagues.
"That's part of the equation, to get somebody to make a commitment," Palmer said when asked if he would settle for an invitation without any guarantees. "I don't know how they'd feel about that, but I've seen a lot of guys get invited to spring training and never get a real opportunity. Right now I'm only concerned about making sure my arm is fine.
"Like I said, I'm not the judge. That's up to them and I don't know how Frank [Robinson] would feel," said Palmer.
There is a perception that Hemond would be willing to give Palmer a spring training opportunity, but that Robinson is not enamored with the idea, fearing the younger pitchers could be stifled. But Hemond says he has discussed the matter with his manager and the two are in agreement.
"Frank would welcome Jim into camp if the judgment is that is what we want to do," said Hemond.
All who watched, however, were not impressed, one of them being scout Moose Johnson of Toronto.
"I talked to Moose on the phone and he wasn't impressed," said Pat Gillick, the Blue Jays' general manager. "But then, Moose only saw Palmer in his uniform; he didn't see him in his shorts."
But Gillick doesn't expect the Blue Jays' interest to blossom. "I really don't think so," he said.
Hemond said it is possible someone other than Bosman will watch Palmer's next workout -- but a decision wouldn't necessarily have to be made at that point. "If need be, we'll watch him a couple of more times," said Hemond.
Palmer isn't the only ex-Oriole Cy Young Award winner (he won it three times) who is under consideration. Hemond said last night he has spoken to Bob Teaff, who represents Mike Flanagan, again this week and there would be more discussions.