He may not like it, but Rafael Palmeiro understands the business of baseball.
Despite owning several franchise records for the Texas Rangers, Palmeiro was disappointed when they chose not to re-sign him following the 2003 season.
He’ll make his return to Ameriquest Field in Arlington when his new team, the Baltimore Orioles, comes to town for a weekend series.
Palmeiro played a total of 10 seasons with the Rangers—1989-93 and 1999-2003—and wanted to finish his career in Texas. However, the Rangers didn’t offer him salary arbitration after last season, setting the stage for his return to Baltimore, where he played from 1994-98.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” said Palmeiro, who says he’ll now enter the Hall of Fame as an Oriole if elected.
“Nothing surprises me anymore. I just want to have a good series and move on. It’s a special place for me. … But (the youth movement) was baseball. It happens to everybody. I don’t have any hard feelings.”
Palmeiro is second to Juan Gonzalez (372) on the Rangers’ all-time home run list with 321. However, his 130 homers at Texas’ 10-year-old stadium are more than anyone else. He is the franchise’s career leader in games played (1,573), at-bats (5,830) and runs (958) and became the 19th player in major league history to hit 500 homers, doing so with Texas on May 11, 2003.
“He was a great player while he was here. He’s done a lot for this franchise,” said Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers, one of Palmeiro’s close friends. “But the nature of the game is out with the old and in with the new. Sometimes that’s a hard thing to realize.”
The 39-year-old first baseman has struggled this season, hitting a career-low .247 with just 14 homers and 63 RBIs. His streak of nine straight seasons with at least 35 homers and 100 RBIs appears to be over. Only Sammy Sosa and Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx have accomplished the feat.
Making matters worse for Palmeiro, the Orioles have lost 10 in a row, including a 9-4 defeat to Oakland on Thursday.
The Orioles, who are in the midst of a season-high 13-game road trip, swept the Rangers in four games at home from Aug. 6-9, outscoring them 30-10.
“When we swept Texas we had confidence,” right fielder Jay Gibbons said. “Now we seemed to have lost it.”
The Orioles have long been out of the race in the AL East, but the Rangers are very much alive in the AL West following four straight last-place finishes.
Hank Blalock homered for the fifth time in six games as the Rangers equaled their win total from last year by beating Minnesota 8-3 on Thursday. Texas has won 10 of its last 13, and is two games behind Boston in the wild-card race.