SPORTS

Steroid Suspects Palmeiro, González up for Hall

Rafael Palmeiro and Juan González will be among 33 baseball players to be this year's Hall of Fame ballot -- and the latest litmus test to see if voters will allow suspected steroid users into the exclusive club.

Palmeiro is 12th on the career list with 569 home runs and had 3,020 hits, joining Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in the 500-3,000 club. Palmeiro wagged his finger at Congress in 2005 while denying he used steroids, then tested positive a few months later and was suspended for 10 days. 

He tested positive for stanozolol, a person with knowledge of the sport's drug-testing program told The Associated Press at the time, speaking on condition of anonymity because the drug wasn't announced. 

Palmeiro testified before a congressional panel that he "never used steroids." 

José Canseco claimed in his 2005 book that he used steroids with González, who was 35 when he played his last major league game. Then Texas Rangers-owner Tom Hicks said in 2007 that he had no knowledge that González used steroids, but said he was suspicious the two-time AL MVP did because of his injuries and early retirement. 

González's agent, Al Nero, said at the time that he would not respond to Hicks because the remarks were irresponsible. González hit 434 home runs and was the AL MVP in 1996 and 1998 for Texas.

The two players join Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, both having fallen just short in last year's vote. Former Most Valuable Players Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, and former Rookies of the Year Benito Santiago and Raúl Mondesi also will be on the ballot, the Baseball Writers' Association of America said Monday. 

Mark McGwire, 10th on the career list with 583 homers, received 128 votes (23.7 percent) in totals announced last January following his fourth appearance of the ballot — well under the 75 percent needed for election. He admitted before last season to using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days. 

Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens, both under indictments on charges related to their denials of steroids use, become eligible for the Hall ballot in two years. When Andre Dawson was elected in January, Blyleven fell five votes short in his 13th season of eligibility and Alomar finished eight shy in his first season of eligibility. 

It was the first time two candidates in the same election missed by fewer than 10 votes. Pitcher Jack Morris (282 votes, 52.3 percent) and shortstop Barry Larkin with (278 votes, 51.6 percent) were the only others on at least half the ballots. 

Candidates remain on the ballot for up to 15 years and must appear on at least 5 percent to remain on the following year. BBWAA members who have been with the organization for at least 10 consecutive years may vote through Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 5. 

Any winners of the writers' vote and at the Veterans Committee ballot, which will be announced next week at the winter meetings, will be inducted during ceremonies on July 24 in Cooperstown. 

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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