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O's cut ties with Palmiero and Sosa


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BALTIMORE, Maryland, Nov 14 ? (AFP) ? Rafael Palmeiro escaped perjury charges after denying under oath he took steroids and then testing positive, but the controversial first baseman could not escape being cut by the Baltimore Orioles.


Cuban-born slugger Palmeiro and outfielder Sammy Sosa, who also denied taking steroids in a Congressional hearing, will not return to the Major League Baseball club, Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan told the Baltimore Sun.


"At this point, we are heading in a different direction,'' Flanagan told the newspaper.


Dominican star Sosa, who turned 37 Saturday, and Palmeiro, 41, have both said they want to play next year. Sosa is only 12 home runs shy of 600 for his career. But both endured disappointing 2004 seasons and will be free agents.


Sosa, who hit 35 or more home runs for 10 years in a row, was obtained in a trade with the Chicago Cubs and hit only .221 with 14 homers, his fewest since 1992, and drove in only 45 runs in 102 games.


Palmeiro achieved his 3,000th career hit in July but was suspended for 10 days in September for a failed drug test that had come only weeks after his March testimony before US lawmakers.


A Congressional investigation produced insufficient evidence to charge Palmeiro with perjury, lawmakers announced Thursday, but the report made a point of saying the claims could not be disproven either.


Palmeiro said the banned performance-enhancer stanozolol was found during a May test because of a tainted B-12 injection given to him by a teammate.

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