Despite speculation in the media and even within the Baltimore Orioles organization that veteran first baseman Rafael Palmeiro might retire rather than return to the field from his suspension Thursday, his agent insisted Sunday that Palmeiro plans to play.

Palmeiro "is intent on playing," agent Arn Tellem said through a spokesman for his agency, SFX. Palmeiro was suspended Aug. 1 for violating the league's steroid policy.

Tellem has been in contact with Orioles officials about plans for Palmeiro's return, including a news conference that could take place either Wednesday or Thursday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

In response to news leaks regarding the substance (stanozolol) for which Palmeiro tested positive, Tellem said, "There is another side to this story, and Raffy will tell it soon."

Coaching Moves

In the wake of Lee Mazzilli's firing as manager and the promotion of bench coach Sam Perlozzo to interim manager, the Orioles announced a shakeup of their coaching staff that will be put into effect on Tuesday.

Third base coach Tom Trebelhorn will become Perlozzo's bench coach, Rick Dempsey will move from first base to third, and Dave Cash will be promoted from his coaching position at Class AAA Ottawa to serve as first base coach for the remainder of the season and will assume much of Perlozzo's duties of overseeing infielders. . . .

Because of injuries and attrition, increasingly Orioles players are finding themselves performing roles for which they are ill-prepared. On Saturday, catcher Sal Fasano played at first base for the first time in seven years, and lefty reliever Steve Kline racked up his highest pitch count (48) in more than eight years. On Sunday, with Melvin Mora out for the third straight day with a sprained ankle, David Newhan made his first start of the season at third base.