Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Updated: June 4, 12:56 PM ET
Sosa reflects on MLB career
By Yoel Adames
SANTO DOMINGO -- Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa said Wednesday that he will soon announce his formal retirement from baseball and that he will not allow his legacy to be stained by steroid-use accusations.
"Everything I achieved, I did it thanks to my perseverance, which is why I never had any long, difficult moments [as a baseball player]. If you have a bad day in baseball, and start thinking about it, you will have 10 more," said Sosa.
"I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't I have the numbers to be inducted?" said Sosa, who presently serves the Dominican government as special ambassador for investment opportunities.
Sosa had a total of 609 home runs in his career, including seasons of 66 homers in 1998; 63 in 1999; and 64 in 2001. He last played in 2007, when he was with the Rangers, a season he called his most fulfilling, with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs in only 114 games.
In an interview with ESPNdeportes.com, the Dominican slugger said he would not address allegations of steroid use.
"I always played with love and responsibility and I assure you that I will not answer nor listen to rumors. If anything ugly comes up in the future, we will confront it immediately, but with all our strength because I will not allow anybody to tarnish what I did in the field," Sosa said.
Speaking at a government-sponsored event, Sosa declined to discuss the frequency of his drug tests throughout his MLB career. He also noted that sanctions to players who have tested positive for steroid use will not harm the game because there are still a number of power hitters who have clean slates while posting solid batting stats.
"It's all about timing and this is not the moment to discuss that topic [drug tests]. I'm here as an ambassador to my country, trying to find new business opportunities for my people. Perhaps we'll discuss some other time," Sosa said.
"The scandal on steroids and all those suspensions will not overshadow the game. Currently, there are many Latino players performing well [offensively]. There's [Albert] Pujols, Carlos Pena; Nelson Cruz has 15. Then what? There's someone else that already has 22 home runs [Adrian Gonzalez] ... we have hit and will continue to hit homers in the major leagues."
Known as the "Caribbean Bambino" after he and Mark McGwire were locked in a home-run race in 1998 -- both ended up breaking Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 -- Sosa expressed sadness for the many Dominican players who are facing difficult moments in their careers, singling out Manny Ramirez, who is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.
"Manny's case has been truly hurtful. It hit me but now it's time for Manny to get back on his feet and face the consequences of his actions," Sosa said.
As for Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz, who is undergoing the worst slump of his career, Sosa was enthusiastic and even offered advice to the slugger, who only has one home run and 18 RBIs this season.
"I saw David very down on himself, he looked very sad during a Minnesota game I was watching. He's got to work on his batting timing. He's approaching the pitch and swinging too fast, too early. He's an easy prey for every pitcher out there," Sosa said.
"He has to focus, but above everything be patient and believe in himself so that he gets his confidence back. As a fellow Dominican, I have been very worried about David."
Regarding pitcher Pedro Martinez, who had a good showing during the first round of the World Baseball Classic in March, Sosa said he was surprised that no team offered the right-hander the money Martinez believes he is worth.
"It's weird that he didn't get a good offer after the way he pitched at the WBC. He received some offers but not what he deserved, and Pedro has some baseball still left in his arm," Sosa said.