League hands Sosa 8-game suspension for use of illegal bat

Saturday, June 7, 2003

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa knew he was going to be punished for using a corked bat. He just didn't expect it to be for this long.

Sosa was suspended for eight games Friday by major league baseball. He immediately appealed the decision in hopes of getting it reduced.

"As he stated all week, he understood he made a mistake," Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He knew there was going to be a suspension, and I think he feels it's worth the appeal to try to have it reduced.

"Because of the circumstances and his up-frontness and his honesty about it, and the things that were checked out thoroughly, we're hopeful -- all things considered -- that it will be reduced some."

A hearing won't be held until next week at the earliest, meaning the Cubs' slugger was eligible to play in this weekend's highly anticipated series with the New York Yankees. He started in right field in Friday's rain-delayed game.

Sosa wouldn't talk about the suspension directly, saying after the 5-3 loss to the Yankees, "Ask about the game tonight, I don't want to talk about anything else."

But when someone asked if this week's events have been draining, he said he's fine.

"I believe the world's not ended yet. I'm still here," he said, smiling. "I have to be happy with myself that I know how to deal with everything. I'm a tough man. I've got a strong mind, and nobody can touch that."

The support he gets from the fans has to help, too. He was greeted with a standing ovation before the game when he was presented with a proclamation celebrating his 500th home run.

"I'm hoping the whole thing dies down," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "It probably won't for a while, but I'm hoping that it does, and we can get back to baseball."

A piece of cork was found just above the handle in Sosa's bat Tuesday night after it shattered on a groundout in the first inning of the Cubs' 3-2 victory.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: