Jim Palmer took his number out of retirement and began his improbable comeback, Roger Clemens shifted numbers for his first spring workout and Dwight Gooden softened his stance Saturday on leaving the New York Mets.
Maury Wills, meanwhile, started his school for speed in the Los Angeles Dodgers' camp. But Cleveland's Keith Hernandez will be out two weeks with a back problem. Cincinnati's Rob Dibble cut short his practice because of a severe sore throat, and Floyd Youmans, trying to bounce back with the Chicago White Sox, shut down because of a stiff arm.Palmer, hoping to revive his Hall of Fame career at age 45, threw for 10 minutes in front of pitching coach Al Jackson in Baltimore's camp at Sarasota, Fla. Palmer wore his familiar No. 22, which the Orioles had retired in 1984.
"I'm here to make the ballclub if I can," Palmer said. "If I can't, I hope I have a good influence on the young players. At the very least, as a broadcaster, I'll know the players a lot better."
Manager Frank Robinson, who played with Palmer on the Orioles' World Series winning teams in 1966 and 1970, didn't see the former ace throw.
"There was no sense in watching," Robinson said. "You're not going to judge him on what he did today. The important thing is for the pitching coach to see him and get familiar with him. It was just nice to see him in uniform."
Clemens, in his first workout since signing a $21.5 million contract that made him the highest-paid player in baseball, threw for 10 minutes in Boston's camp at Winter Haven, Fla.
"I almost feel embarrassed to talk about my contract," Clemens said. "I'm happy with it, I'm in the position I want to be and I'm thankful, but I don't think it proper to talk about it with the war going on."
Saying that he is not into a "rah, rah situation," Clemens plans to lead by example.
He set that example early, by arriving for his first workout shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, getting into uniform and then running hours before other players had checked into the clubhouse.
"He looks good and he's in a good frame of mind, and he threw the ball good," pitching coach Bill Fischer said. "As long as you've got No. 21, you're in good shape."
Clemens, however, isn't wearing his usual number. Instead, in spring training he's wearing No. 24, a tribute to Dwight Evans, who was released by the Red Sox after 18 years and signed by Baltimore.
Just where Gooden will be next season is still undecided.
Gooden set Friday as a deadline for getting a contract extension. When the Mets did not offer a Clemens-style deal, he said he would not negotiate during the season and would file for free agency when it ended.
But Saturday, Gooden seemed to back off a bit. He left open the possibility a deal could be done with the Mets before he, like Darryl Strawberry, walked away.
"I didn't do that for a threat," Gooden said after his second workout in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "I would love to stay in New York. I love the people and I love the city.
"I have nothing against the organization or (general manager) Frank Cashen," he said. "We'll see what happens."
Dibble, also having contract problems, was sent home from the Reds' workout with throat trouble. He was told to see a doctor for immediate treatment.
Dibble, one of seven unsigned Reds, is working out despite the dispute. General manager Bob Quinn said negotiations with agent Eric Goldschmidt were moving slowly.
Youmans' return to the majors is moving slowly, too. One day after reporting to the White Sox camp, he complained of a stiff arm and skipped throwing. Youmans has not pitched since June 1989, when he was sidelined with rotator cuff surgery while with Philadelphia.
In a move the White Sox expected, Carlos Martinez refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Vancouver and became a free agent. Martinez batted .224 in 272 at-bats last season and made eight errors in part-time duty at first base.
Wills, one of the game's greatest speedsters, hopes to teach Dodgers minor leaguers how to hit and run better. He began guiding 16 minor leaguers, known as the "Dodger Burners," in the skills of bunting and stealing bases.
"We're glad to have Maury working with us," Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "Speed is one thing we're always looking for."
Among those who watched workouts Saturday were Hernandez and San Francisco's Kevin Mitchell.
Hernandez, limited to 43 games last season because of a calf injury, is now out with lower back trouble. At 37, the injury raises the possibility the Indians could release him before opening day.
"Obviously, it's a big spring for him," said John Hart, Cleveland's director of baseball operations. "If he's healthy, he can help us. But we have nothing to evaluate from last year. It was basically a total washout of a year for him."
Mitchell, who had post-season surgery on his right wrist, reported late and did not take part in the practice, explaining he did not arrive at the club's hotel until the pre-dawn hours Saturday.
"I haven't been hitting this winter," Mitchell said. "I went to see the doctor, and he told me to take it easy because of the scar tissue."