FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Feb. 24 -- Rafael Palmeiro's anger over accusations that he used steroids might not end with a simple denial. Palmeiro said he is considering legal action against Jose Canseco over his public accusations. If he goes forward with a lawsuit, Palmeiro would be represented by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
Palmeiro may never have had protection in a lineup as good as he does in the courtroom. Angelos built his fortune as a trial lawyer and is considered one of the best attorneys in the country.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos would represent Rafael Palmeiro if he chooses to file suit against Jose Canseco.
(Rick Bowmer - AP)
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"The thing I can say is that I have the best law firm and lawyer standing in the way," Palmeiro said. "I have options available for me. [Angelos] stands with me and behind me."
Palmeiro again dismissed Canseco's accusations in a meeting with reporters in the Orioles' dugout. In his book "Juiced," Canseco claims to have introduced Palmeiro to steroids. When asked in a "60 Minutes" interview if he provided steroids for Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Palmeiro, Canseco said: "I injected them. Absolutely."
"I think, for the most part, fans know who is telling the truth," Palmeiro said. "My reputation means a lot and carries a lot of weight. It's tough to defend yourself in the public eye, but my actions and how I defend myself stand on their own."
The two share a long history, though Palmeiro said they are simply acquaintances.
"He and I have never been close friends," Palmeiro said.
Both grew up in the Miami area and played together in several youth leagues. In 1982, Canseco was drafted in the 15th round by the Oakland Athletics. Palmeiro, that same year, began his freshman season at Mississippi State University. They became teammates in 1992 with the Texas Rangers.
"The game was great to him and he was the only one at fault," Palmeiro said. "This game gave him a lot. He should be proud that it gave him an opportunity to play."
Palmeiro's meeting with the press was perhaps the most uncomfortable moment of the day. Palmeiro entered the Orioles' clubhouse, beginning his 20th season in the majors, on Thursday morning flanked by his two sons. He quickly greeted his teammates and gave Sammy Sosa a huge embrace. He and Sosa, who briefly were teammates with the Rangers in 1989, are the only teammates in baseball history with 500 or more home runs. They stood together at the batting cage during batting practice and received the loudest cheers of the day.
For most of the day, Palmeiro tended to his sons. Patrick, 14, and Preston, 10, are aware of the steroids accusations hanging over their father, but neither is fazed.
"My kids saw it [on television], and especially my oldest son . . . he started laughing," Palmeiro said. "My kids understand that a lot of the stuff is made up."
Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said it's unfortunate that four of his players (Tony Saunders, Miguel Tejada, Sosa and Palmeiro) have had to answer to Canseco's charges. On Sunday, Saunders challenged Canseco to take a lie-detector test. Sosa declined to talk about Canseco during Wednesday's news conference. Tejada will have to answer questions about Canseco when he arrives in camp Friday.
"It's totally unfair because it's all hearsay," Mazzilli said. "They don't have to defend themselves."
Palmeiro said he was done talking about Canseco after Thursday's media gathering. "One thing I can say, it's time to move on," Palmeiro said. "It's time to talk baseball."
The first baseman hopes to revitalize a career that appeared in decline at the end of last year. In 2004, Palmeiro had his lowest home-run total (23) since the strike-shortened season in 1994. Last year, he entered the spring as the starting first baseman. This year, Palmeiro is the primary designated hitter, sharing first base with Jay Gibbons.
"My feeling is that I wanted to come back," Palmeiro said. "I didn't want to leave on a bad note. I was disappointed in the way I performed. I wanted to come back and play at my level."