Palmer has drills, and head, covered


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Two days into his first spring training camp in seven years, Jim Palmer looks as though he never left.

He knows all of the drills, and is still as fluid as ever on the pitching mound. He weighs just about 200 pounds; he was 198 when he was released in 1984. In fact, the only major difference in Palmer's appearance is one that only the most intense observers would notice. He's wearing a cap at all times, something he rarely did before unless he was in competition.

That change is in deference to one of manager Frank Robinson's new and enforced rules -- full uniform at all times.

Palmer doesn't throw as hard as he did 10 years ago -- but the velocity since the last time he wore a uniform is about the same.

"Average or a little below average," is the scouting report on Palmer's pre-training camp workouts.

"That's as hard as I threw in 1982 [when he was 15-5]," said Palmer.

"He wasn't letting it out, but I thought he threw pretty good," said Bob Melvin, who caught Palmer the first day.

Whether he will be able to get major-league hitters out remains to be seen. His first opportunity, other than intra-squad games, could come on March 11.

That happens to be the date of the Orioles' first "home" exhibition game, their fifth preseason game overall and the first televised game (HTS) of the spring. It's not something that had been planned by Robinson, but he didn't seem to be opposed to the possibility.

During Palmer's first day in uniform, which attracted an audience about three times the size of yesterday's turnout, he appeared a little ill at ease on the journey to and from the field. But during the workout, it seemed to be business as usual.

"It's amazing how much younger the players look when you're working out with them than they do from the broadcast booth," said Palmer.

But if there's one thing Jim Palmer doesn't have to worry about, it's looking his age (45).

* TRIBUTE FROM ROCKET: Roger Clemens has this thing about former teammates he respects. Last year he wore No. 14 throughout spring training as a tribute to the departed Jim Rice.

This year Clemens, who normally wears No. 21, is wearing No. 24 -- in honor of Dwight Evans. "Somebody told me about it," said Evans, now with the Orioles. "It's nice.

"Roger is a good guy, a good person. I've always said that. He just seems to end up in the middle of things.

"As a pitcher," said Evans, "I'd compare Roger to a nose guard in football. He's very competitive. There was one game we had to win in Toronto last year and on one play he had to cover first base. The throw wasn't very good and he reached back, caught the ball and just threw his body across first base. He didn't care -- somebody was going to have to step on his back to beat him."

* CHARM SCHOOL: Forty players are in camp, with injured pitcher Brian DuBois the only absentee scheduled to be here. DuBois and rookie third baseman Leo Gomez were the Orioles' representatives at a three-day seminar in Atlanta.

Each team sent two players, all with less than three years experience, to the seminar, a trial run aimed at educating young players on things ranging from money management to nutrition, to media relations.

* WORTHY OF EARLY START: Craig Worthington, who upset team officials when he was late arriving after last year's lockout, is one of the position players who arrived early this year. Most of those on hand with the pitchers and catchers are players with injury-related reasons for attending camp early.

In addition to Worthington, Bill Ripken, Joe Orsulak, Randy Milligan, Jeff McKnight, Sam Horn, Juan Bell and Evans are the position players on the roster who have made an early appearance. Larry Sheets, a non-roster invitee, is also on hand.

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