Rafael Palmeiro is returning to professional baseball at 53.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed Wednesday that Palmeiro is finalizing a deal to play for the Cleburne Railroaders, a team in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.
As part of the agreement, Palmeiro’s oldest son, 28-year-old Patrick, also will sign a deal to play for Cleburne, the source said.
Palmeiro first broke the news Tuesday night, telling the Dallas Morning News in a text message that he had agreed to play for the Railroaders.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Palmeiro told the newspaper. “Nobody gave me a chance to go to spring training, so I’ll just take this path.”
A little more than five months ago, Palmeiro told The Athletic that he wanted to play professional baseball again and had “no doubt” that he could still compete at the major-league level. He said he hoped that a big-league club would invite him to spring training, where he could plan to win a job outright. And he said he did not anticipate having to work his way up through the minor leagues.
Palmeiro framed his return, in part, as a chance to clear his name after being suspended in 2005 for testing positive for anabolic steroids. He memorably told a congressional panel that “I have never used steroids, period” but months later tested positive for stanozolol.
“Maybe 12 years later, if I can come back and prove I don’t need anything as an older player with an older body, then people might think, OK, maybe he didn’t do anything intentionally,” Palmeiro told The Athletic in December.
The Railroaders, who are based in Cleburne, Texas, are scheduled to open their season May 18 against the Winnipeg Goldeyes.