Suspension shocked Cat

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

Suspenders removed, Rafael Palmeiro is back from his state of limbo.

His 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy complete, Palmeiro was at Camden Yards last night as the Orioles played host to the Blue Jays.

Palmeiro was reinstated, but on the bench, on Thursday to see the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-2 and see the "We Believe Raffy" and "Why, Raffy?" signs.

What lies ahead for Palmeiro?

Well, assuredly, the same "sterr-oids, sterr-oids" chants that greet Yankees' Jason Giambi on the road.

Will Palmeiro be elected to Cooperstown five years after he retires, or is his reputation soiled like spread-out newspapers in a house with a puppy.

Frank Catalanotto of the Jays and Palmeiro shared the same clubhouse 162 games a season with the Texas Rangers from 2000 to 2002.

"It was shocking to hear the news when he was first suspended," Catalanotto was saying the other day at the Rogers Centre. "The type of body he has, he's not a muscle-bound guy. He doesn't seem the type."

First, some background on Catalanotto. He never attend P.R. classes run by David Wells. Nor is he a cliche machine, putting his pants on one leg at a time, while tipping his hat to the other pitcher and getting ready to play one game at a time.

Ask him about the unimpressive conduct of other ex-teammates and his right eyebrow will form into a small question mark. Then, he'll walk away, looking over his shoulder to say: "I don't think so ... no thanks."

But Catalanotto, on the upper end of the intelligence scale in the baseball clubhouse, was comfortable talking about Palmeiro. His former teammate is still in the eye of the storm after being suspended five months for wagging his finger at U.S. Congress and telling it he had "never EVER used steroids."

"Look how durable he is," Catalanotto said.

"Has he ever been on the disabled list? Not once in 20 seasons. He hasn't broken down. A lot of guys that people suspected (of steroid use) in the past have had one injury after another.

"That's another reason why I believe Rafael Palmeiro."

We asked our crack Olympic ring-head writer Steve Buffery years ago what to look for when trying to determine who was a steroid user. He gave us the big three:

1) Yellow in the whites of a player's eyes.

2) An extra muscle going from the shoulder to the neck.

3) A bad case of acne on the player's backs.

Never once have we seen a case of yellow in the whites of a baseball player's eyes, though we have seen plenty of red ones.

Never once have we seen those massive neck muscles, like pro wrasslers.

Once we saw a bad case of acne.

"Right now, I think he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer with the numbers he has," said Catalanotto of Palmeiro's career totals: 568 homers and 3,018 hits.

"We haven't learned all the facts yet. Five years after he retires, we'll know a lot more. By then, we'll see what has happened with Mark McGwire and other players."

Yet knees are jerking amongst the Hall of Fame voters, even though the decision is years away.

How many Hall of Famers would have been elected without the use of amphetamines?

How many pitchers who cheated whle they were on the mound are in Cooperstown? Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry, for sure. Apparently, cheating on the mound isn't frowned upon the way it is with hitters. 


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