New York, Boston Hear Sosa Rumors

Wednesday, June 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — The competition in the AL East is pretty similar to the debate that a friend says is going on in Sammy Sosa's mind: Boston or New York.

With trade talks swirling around Sosa and the clubhouses of both the Red Sox and Yankees, Boston infielder Manny Alexander said Wednesday that the Chicago Cubs' slugger is intrigued by the possibility of playing in either city.

``We talk about it a lot,'' said Alexander, who played with Sosa in Chicago and remains one of his closest friends. ``Boston, New York, Boston, New York. I know where he'd be happy because he's said it.''

Alexander, who talked to Sosa on Tuesday night, wouldn't reveal that answer, but it could come soon.

Cubs general manager Ed Lynch said he has been contacted by a few teams about the three-time All-Star and 1998 National League MVP, and the Red Sox, Yankees and New York Mets are all interested.

Then again, who wouldn't want to acquire a player who is hitting .305 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs this season, and had 129 home runs the past two seasons.

Sosa, who can veto any trade, can dictate where he will play if the Cubs decide to move him.

``He's one of the most influential baseball players in the game,'' Alexander said. ``Of course, I'd be happy if he was traded here. But wherever he's traded he's going to be happy because he's going to play.''

Alexander hinted that Sosa isn't so happy in Chicago, where he has come under criticism this season from new manager Don Baylor others in the front office.

``Because of what he's done for the team, the organization and baseball, he should get more respect than he's getting,'' Alexander said.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is apparently ready to give Sosa more than respect.

The Boss, who would have to extend Sosa's contract to complete a deal, is getting antsy to do something. After the Yankees lost Tuesday night to Boston, Steinbrenner told reporters, ``We better do something.''

``That will only make it tougher to do something,'' said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who discussed Sosa with Steinbrenner during a meeting Tuesday. ``George is emotional. George wants to win. But it doesn't make my general manager's job easier when other clubs say, 'Ha-ha. There's a mandate for you.'''

Steinbrenner, who wanted to acquire Jim Edmonds during spring training, is frustrated by a team that is second-to-last in the AL in runs scored and neck-and-neck with Boston in the AL East.

There are also questions about a starting rotation that is counting heavily on a pair of struggling 37-year olds, ROGER CLEMENS and DAVID CONE.

``If we bring someone in here, we want to make sure it fits our needs,'' Torre said. ``A high-profile player isn't the answer unless that player has something that this club needs to be better.''

Steinbrenner's outburst and the swirling trade rumors are nothing new for the Yankees, who were more concerned with facing PEDRO MARTINEZ than the backpage headlines in the New York tabloids.

``There's always something going on here, so I don't look at it as being a distraction,'' shortstop Derek Jeter said. ``There are always trade rumors. It seems like every guy available, we're going to trade for. It's not like this is the first time we heard it.''

There have been a lot of names mentioned in trade talks — mostly minor league prospects — but the Cubs couldn't have liked what they saw from Yankees farmhand Adrian ``El Duquecito'' Hernandez, who pitched Tuesday night for Double-A Norfolk.

Hernandez, nicknamed for his similarities to Yankees pitcher Orlando ``El Duque'' Hernandez, gave up six runs, four hits, four walks and hit two batters in his second Double-A.