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Cubs Notes: Manny's in, Sosa next?

2/24/2015

MESA, Ariz. -- With former PED user Manny Ramirez being hired Tuesday as a hitting consultant for the Chicago Cubs, the conversation at spring training turned to their own controversial former star, Sammy Sosa.

Sosa hasn’t been welcomed back to the team since leaving in 2004, despite being the franchise’s all-time home run leader.

“That one’s being handled in other circles, but assuming things get worked out, certainly be open to having him around in some capacity and working with our young guys,” president Theo Epstein said. “I don’t know him personally but I’m sure he has some things to offer. I’m not involved in that one.”

Sosa has 545 career home runs, including three seasons of hitting 60 or more for the Cubs, but PED rumors and a bad ending to his Cubs career have dogged him since he left his final game with the team before it was over. Epstein was asked if Sosa needs to apologize -- in the same vein that Ramirez addressed his issues before the Cubs brought him onboard last season.

“In Manny’s case, the real changes he made in his life, his outlook, his habits, his behavior, taking more responsibility for things that he had done had made us interested in the first place,” Epstein explained. “But for those changes, we probably wouldn’t have had interest in him in this organization.”

But Epstein emphasized he doesn’t know Sosa and not everyone has to apologize to be welcomed back.

“It can really help but not if it’s done for the sake of getting back in,” Epstein stated. “It has to be organic. But that’s just specific to Manny.”

Epstein directed questions about Sosa to ownership. Owner Tom Ricketts will be in camp Wednesday as full squad workouts begin.

Maddon on stars: Joe Maddon gave his philosophy on handling young players who are highly touted such as Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.

“I try to not give them too much advice,” Maddon said. “I stay out of their way and watch what’s going on.”

Maddon says he looks for two things: “Is he accountable and how does he handle adversity?”

Embracing analytics: Maddon says, going back to his days with the Angels, he developed his own “rudimentary” use of baseball analytics. Now, it’s much more advanced and he doesn’t see a reason not to use them.

“It wasn’t available (then),” Maddon said. “It's new stuff. It's color television. It’s air conditioning. It’s power brakes. Before it was invented, you could never miss it.”

What’s next? Full squad workouts begin Wednesday as the team will be addressed by Ricketts as well as Epstein and Maddon. Cactus League games begin March 5.