Palmeiro Tries Earplugs, But Can't Stop Slump

Rafael Palmeiro
Rafael Palmeiro runs back to the dugout with earplugs after popping out to Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Bush in the fourth inning. (Adrian Wyld - AP)
Associated Press
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

TORONTO, Aug. 30 -- Earplugs didn't help Rafael Palmeiro stop his slump.

Palmeiro inserted earplugs after he was loudly booed during his first at-bat in the Baltimore Orioles' 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

He went 0 for 4, leaving him with two hits in 26 at-bats, an .077 average, since a 10-day suspension for testing positive for steroids.

Palmeiro expressed disbelief when Orioles spokesman Kevin Behan told him the first few questions to interim manager Sam Perlozzo were about his earplugs. Palmeiro declined to talk to reporters, saying through Behan that he will speak Wednesday.

"You want to be accepted by people," teammate Brian Roberts said. "For 99 percent of his career he has been and for that to completely change now, I think is something I don't know if any of us can comprehend what he's going through. By his expressions you can tell that it is definitely beating him up."

Palmeiro struck out swinging in the first inning, popped out weakly to the pitcher in the fourth, lined out to first base in the sixth and took a called third strike in the eighth. His batting average has dropped from .280 at the time of his suspension to .266.

He added what appeared to be tape to one earplug, apparently to further drown out the boos.

Fans have jeered Palmeiro and made disparaging remarks since his return. He is the most prominent major league player punished for taking banned drugs, and said when the suspension was announced that he never intentionally took steroids.

Palmeiro was Baltimore's designated hitter, a day after Perlozzo suggested he has lost his job as the regular first baseman.

Perlozzo didn't notice the earplugs until his last at-bat.

"You'll have to ask Raffy if it bothers him, but we're out there rooting for him," Perlozzo said.

Baltimore lost its fifth straight game and for the 10th time in 11 games. Rodrigo Lopez (13-8) gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Shea Hillenbrand tripled during a four-run second inning, and hit an RBI double in a three-run fifth. Every Toronto starter had at least one hit.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company