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Palmeiro has numbers, but they don't add to MVP First baseman ranks in top 10 in 7 areas


DETROIT -- Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro drove in his 100th run with his 37th homer yesterday, a long blast that bounced off the facing of Tiger Stadium's second deck in right-center field.

He is putting together a MVP-type season -- and getting absolutely no consideration. When possible MVP candidates are written about, Palmeiro never is mentioned.

"It's incredible," said third baseman Bobby Bonilla. "Nobody's even talking about it, and he's having a great year."

Palmeiro ranks in the top 10 in the AL in homers, RBIs, total bases, hits, extra-base hits, slugging percentage and multi-hit games. "I notice it," said Orioles manager Phil Regan. "Maybe he's not noticed because he's not a real flashy type player. He just goes out and drives in runs. . . . Believe me, I know he's in the lineup."

"If we were in first place," Palmeiro said, "I might be getting recognition, maybe for MVP. All the guys who are being talked about are playing for teams that are winning. But 18 games out of first place, I don't deserve it."

Palmeiro has hit the most homers by a left-handed Oriole since Boog Powell hit 37 in 1969, and if he gets one more this year, then he'll have hit more than any Oriole since Frank Robinson had 49 in 1966.

Jeffrey Hammonds pinch-ran for Harold Baines in the eighth inning yesterday, and Regan said afterward that if Hammonds' spot in the batting order had come around again, Hammonds would've batted, for the first time in two months.

And, Regan said, he'll probably give Hammonds a chance to hit before the end of the season, possibly in a start at designated hitter, or as a pinch hitter. "He's only been hitting live [batting practice] for three or four days," Regan said, "but I might start him at designated hitter, if I see him swinging the bat well."

Hammonds may get his opportunity the next few days, because Detroit left-hander C. J. Nitkowski starts today, and Milwaukee lefty Brian Givens pitches against the Orioles tomorrow.

Ripken continues in slump

Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken went 0-for-3, extending his hitless streak to 15 at-bats and lowering his average to .251. Ripken, 3-for-44 since the night he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record, hit off a tee again after yesterday's game, the tee placed on home plate at Tiger Stadium.

"You want to see the flight of the ball, you want to see where it goes," said Ripken, who would not elaborate on possible reasons for his slump. "It's just part of the process."

Part of the process on Tuesday was picking up the dozens of baseballs scattered in the outfield after he was finished. He had some help yesterday, as teammates Ben McDonald, Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles and bullpen catcher Sammy Snider shagged in the outfield.

As Ripken hit balls off the tee and the others became involved, the practice session became something of a contest. Ripken and then Hoiles attempted to hit the ball out of the park off the tee in left.

Bonilla draws praise

Regan continued to praise the third-base defense of Bonilla, who made a couple of nice plays, including a couple in which he charged balls hit in front of him and threw to first. Ripken agreed: "He's gone out there with the desire to make plays. . . . He's done a great job, going at the ball and the ball hit in the hole. He's turned a couple of balls into double plays."

Around the horn

Harold Baines' homer in the sixth inning was the 299th of his career. When he hits No. 300, he'll become the 69th player in major- league history to do so. . . . Bonilla's single in the second inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games. . . . Kevin Brown, who had been home with his wife in Georgia for two days, rejoined the team yesterday. . . . The folks operating the Tigers' JumboTron are finishing the 1995 season on a downer. They misspelled Ripken's name in presenting the lineups Tuesday and yesterday -- Ripkin -- and then yesterday, when Curtis Goodwin stepped to the plate, a note flashed that Goodwin leads the AL with 44 stolen bases. Wrong. That would be Tom Goodwin, of the Kansas City Royals.

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