Cubs' Sosa Claims Mistreatment by Club

Saturday, October 30th 2004, 9:02 pm
By: News On 6

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Sammy Sosa was humiliated by being dropped to sixth in the Chicago Cubs lineup, and claims he was mistreated by the club.

When he struggled down the stretch of the season, Cubs manager Dusty Baker lowered the slugger in the batting order _ much to Sosa's dismay.

``I'm not a sixth batter,'' Sosa told Hoy newspaper in Santo Domingo on Saturday upon returning to his native Dominican Republic. ``I'm a cleanup hitter or third because I've earned that right with almost 600 career home runs.''

Sosa, 35, batted .253 this season _ his lowest average since 1997. In 126 games, he had 35 homers and 80 RBIs, ending his run of nine straight 100-RBI seasons.

The season ended on a sour note for Sosa and the Cubs. Chicago squandered its wild-card lead with a severe slide in the final week, and the Cubs were eliminated on the second-to-last day.

Sosa arrived late to the finale at Wrigley Field and then left the game early without playing. The Cubs fined him $87,500 _ one day's salary _ because of his actions.

``I know I screwed up and I can assure you that I've asked for forgiveness,'' Sosa told the newspaper. ``But I also need to say that I felt poorly treated.

``So many things happened that I was in shock. I needed to rest that day because I wasn't going to be able to give it my best.''

Sosa has a year left on his contract that will pay him $17 million, and the club has an option for 2006. Trade rumors have already started, and the New York Mets are reportedly interested.

The former All-Star has hit 574 home runs during 16 major league seasons, and Sosa says he plans to play into his 40s.

``I'm going to play at least another five or six seasons, hitting 35 home runs a year,'' he said. ``That would allow me to finish my career with 700 home runs.''