Though speculation persists that Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro won't play again this year, interim manager Sam Perlozzo expects him to be in Baltimore for the team's last homestand Sept. 23-29.

"He wants to finish [the season], unless he's changed his mind," Perlozzo said.

Palmeiro and the Orioles decided on Sept. 5 that he would rehabilitate his injured right knee and left ankle at his home in Texas to avoid being a distraction to the team. Perlozzo said he knew perhaps that Palmeiro was not prepared to deal with the backlash of his positive steroid test when he used earplugs to block out the boos at a game in Toronto.

"I knew it would be difficult," Perlozzo said. "I didn't realize he would take it as hard as he did."

Orioles Executive Vice President Jim Beattie said the team would have no problem allowing Palmeiro to finish out the final few games in uniform.

"If he comes back and is healthy, you try to give him a chance to go out this season healthy," Beattie said.

"I don't think it's a real detriment," Perlozzo said. "Raffy is a good man. He's a help to his teammates."

No Return Date for Sosa

Beattie said he spoke briefly with Sammy Sosa's agent on Thursday, but said there is no date yet for the outfielder's return. Sosa has been out since Aug. 25 because of a right toe lesion.

"He said he's coming along okay but was still resting," Beattie said. . . . Beattie said there are no current plans for organizational meetings after the season. Neither Beattie nor Vice President Mike Flanagan are under contract for next season. . . . On Thursday night, Baltimore's Class A affiliate in Frederick won the organization's first minor league title since 2001.