Notes: Palmeiro returns to O's

Notes: Palmeiro returns to O's

BALTIMORE -- The task for Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo is to integrate Rafael Palmeiro back into the Orioles' lineup without disrupting a team that's slowly emerging from a slump.

Palmeiro was available for Perlozzo for Thursday's game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after serving his 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. But he was not in the lineup after informing Perlozzo he had done little baseball activities since being suspended Aug. 1.

Perlozzo used Alejandro Freire, playing in his third Major League game, at first base and Jay Gibbons at designated hitter. Palmeiro said he was available for pinch hitting duty, but Perlozzo said that was highly unlikely.

"I don't think he has done a whole lot, so we'll take it a day at a time," Perlozzo said. "He won't be in there today. We'll see what he looks like tomorrow. He might take a couple of days, I think."

Palmeiro was in the clubhouse when media members were allowed access at 3:30 p.m. ET and spoke with teammates on a one-on-one basis. Perlozzo said he asked Palmeiro if he wanted to address the team collectively and Palmeiro opted to talk with players individually.

Palmeiro shook hands, patted others on the back and also joked with club officials.

"Emotionally, he has been through a lot and he thought it would be better that he did that," Perlozzo said. "He said he would tell everyone he was sorry about the distraction. And that's pretty much it."

Perlozzo said he briefly addressed Palmeiro's return after Wednesday's 9-5 win over the Devil Rays. He said he tried to stress a business-as-usual attitude.

"Our thing is, when we are inside a clubhouse, we are a team together," he said. "And that's what I addressed the club with and that's what we are going to do. When you walk in the door, you can do whatever you want, think whatever you want when you leave. When you get in here -- you come through the door -- we're together as a team and that's the way we are going about it."

Palmeiro addressed the media about 4:15 p.m. ET, but did not mention the word "steroid" or the positive test. Palmeiro promised again to tell his side of the story.

"The time will come soon, hopefully, that I can explain my situation."

Perlozzo said he will not make judgments on Palmeiro, instead giving his longtime friend the benefit of the doubt.

"Quite honestly, until everything comes out, until Raffy is allowed to speak and everything that happens comes out, we really don't know, I don't know," Perlozzo said. "He is gonna do what we ask him to do, whether he does it well or not will be the same thing we [ask] of every player on our team right now. We expect everybody to do something, and if they do it well, we are tickled."

"We're glad to have him back," reliever Steve Kline said. "He seems like he's in good spirits and that says a lot. He knows he has nothing but support in this clubhouse."

Saturday starter: The Orioles have yet to announce a starting pitcher for Saturday's game against Toronto, but Perlozzo said it will be either Eric DuBose or Triple-A Ottawa's John Maine. Perlozzo indicated that unless DuBose is needed for a relief outing on Thursday or Friday, he would be the starter. DuBose, who was 8-10 with a 3.25 ERA for Double-A Bowie, was in the rotation last season before missing the final three months because of elbow surgery.

Roster move: To make room for Palmeiro on the 25-man and 40-man roster, outfielder Midre Cummings was designated for assignment. Cummings, 33, was hitless in two at-bats in two games.

Coming up: The Orioles host Toronto on Friday in the first game of a three-game series at Camden Yards. Right-hander Daniel Cabrera takes on former Orioles pitcher Josh Towers (8-9, 4.53 ERA) in the opener. Towers is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA lifetime against his former team.

Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.