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Orioles choose to sever ties with Palmeiro

David Ginsburg Associated Press

BALTIMORE – Rafael Palmeiro’s tumultuous season came to an end Friday when the Baltimore Orioles, tired of the distraction stemming from his suspension for steroids, told him he was no longer welcome on the team.

The decision came on the same day Palmeiro was scheduled to return from spending time at home rehabilitating his right knee and left ankle. But the Orioles figured it was best they cut their ties for now.

“He wanted to come back and play, but I think in this instance we had to do what we felt was best for the rest of the players out there,” Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said.

The abrupt end to Palmeiro’s season came one day after it was learned that he cited a vitamin he received from teammate Miguel Tejada as possibly causing the positive steroid test.

“I know I’m clean. I’m not guilty,” Tejada said before the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox. “I use the same thing, and I’ve been checked for steroids three times.”

Palmeiro spoke of receiving a shot of vitamin B-12 during his unsuccessful grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn the 10-day suspension he received for the positive drug test.

“He just said he brought up my name because he told them everything he was taking,” Tejada said. “I’m not mad at him because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The Health Policy Advisory Committee, the joint committee established to oversee the Joint Drug Agreement in Major League Baseball, said in a statement: “There is no evidence whatsoever supporting any claim that Miguel Tejada has ever provided any illegal substance of any kind to any player.”

Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, and is commonly found in foods such as fish, meat, poultry and dairy products.

The decision to end Palmeiro’s season came during a meeting between Beattie, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, vice president Mike Flanagan and interim manager Sam Perlozzo.

Palmeiro was suspended on Aug. 1 for using steroids. At that point, a season in which he became the fourth player in major league history to amass 3,000 hits and 500 home runs quickly began to unravel.

Upon his return, Palmeiro was jeered by fans at home and away. He went 2 for 26 with one RBI and wore earplugs during a game in Toronto before the Orioles finally sent him home on Sept. 5 for rehab.

The 40-year-old Palmeiro was to return from Texas on Friday to finish out the season, but the Orioles decided against it.

“It was a matter of him coming back and getting in shape and playing again and all that, as well as the distraction of everything else that’s going on,” Beattie said. “It’s been a big enough distraction, and he hasn’t been here. So, we decided for the organization and for the players that are here that it would be best that he not dress for the rest of the year.”

A phone call to Palmeiro’s cell phone was not immediately returned. He hasn’t decided whether to return for the 2006 season, and it’s unlikely that the Orioles want him back.

“I think it would be very tough for him to come back in an Oriole uniform,” Beattie said.

Palmeiro hit .266 with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs this year. Palmeiro has long been a leader in the locker room, but all that changed on Aug. 1.

“We didn’t need that for multiple reasons,” Perlozzo said. “The clubhouse should be cohesive, and anything that takes away from that is a negative. … It wasn’t going to accomplish anything for the ballclub.”

Palmeiro has not publicly discussed details of the testimony he gave during a grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn his 10-day suspension, which followed a positive test for stanozolol.

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