Sosa Has Good Day Against Former Team

Friday, March 9th 2007, 7:39 pm
By: News On 6

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) _ Sammy Sosa was too focused on his comeback to get nostalgic about facing the Chicago Cubs. Plus, the way he's hitting, the former slugger figures to see his old team again in June, when the Cubs visit the Texas Rangers for the first time.

The 38-year-old Sosa, in camp with the Rangers on a minor league contract after a year out of baseball, went 2-for-3 with a walk as Texas beat a Chicago split squad 11-9 Friday.

Sosa is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with two home runs and four RBIs through six games.

``I know I was playing against them, but I was thinking about a normal game,'' insisted Sosa, a seven-time All-Star with the Cubs from 1992-2004 and the 1998 NL MVP. ``I'm just happy to have an opportunity to have another good game. ... So far, so good.''

Sosa had his second infield single in two days and a sharp hit to right field. While he's expected to be primarily a designated hitter, he played seven innings in right field and caught three fly balls, including a running grab near the wall to end the third.

The Cubs traded Sosa to Baltimore before spring training in 2005. He was then among several players who testified before a congressional committee looking into steroid use in baseball, and hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs in 102 games for the Orioles.

After sitting out last season, Sosa persuaded the Rangers _ the team he originally signed with as a 16-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic in 1985 _ to give him another chance. Sosa said the Cubs weren't interested _ and now everyone in the Texas front office looks like a ``genius.''

``I had an opportunity with Texas,'' Sosa said. ``When you were out for a year like I was, sometimes they think you are finished _ and I'm not.''

Sosa is fifth on the career list with 588 home runs, including 545 with the Cubs. He had three 60-homer seasons, batting .308 with a career-high 66 homers and 158 RBIs in 1998 _ when he had that memorable home run chase with Mark McGwire, the first major leaguer to hit 70 homers.

After he made his major league debut with Texas in 1989, Sosa played in only 25 games before being traded to the White Sox and then to the Cubs.

Texas' Michael Young, who last week got an $80 million, five-year contract extension through 2013, went 4-for-4. Ian Kinsler and Marlon Byrd each went 3-for-4. Byrd had a two-run homer and Kinsler a three-run double.

Matt Murton, Koyie Hill and Tyler Colvin homered for Chicago.

Rangers right-hander Brandon McCarthy and Cubs left-hander Neal Cotts, both traded by the White Sox during the offseason, struggled in their starts.

McCarthy allowed five runs and seven hits, including two homers, and was pulled after one batter in the third inning. All four runs against Cotts were unearned because of an error, but he gave up seven hits in two innings.

Sosa beat out a slow roller up the middle in his first at-bat. He grounded back to the pitcher, walked and then singled sharply to right on the first pitch leading off the seventh before being lifted for a pinch-runner.

``He's doing everything that we're asking him to do,'' Texas manager Ron Washington said. ``I never once doubted him. He's doing everything I knew he could do. This man has pedigree.''

Sosa gets a day off Saturday, along with most of the Texas regulars who won't make the trip to Scottsdale for a game against San Francisco.

DeRosa was among only a handful of Chicago regulars who made the two-hour bus ride to Surprise, a trip he wanted to make. DeRosa hit a career-best .296 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs while playing six different positions for Texas last season, then got a $13 million, three-year contract from the Cubs to be their second baseman.

``It's different. I miss it over there, but time to move on. I've a great team over here and I'm having fun,'' said DeRosa, who was 2-for-4. ``I feel comfortable here. The team's loaded with talent.''

Notes: Eric Gagne is scheduled to face hitters for the first time this spring in a ``B'' game Monday. The new Rangers closer and 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner threw another bullpen session Friday. ``It was good, positive again,'' said Gagne, who was limited to only 15 1-3 innings the past two seasons because of elbow and back operations. ... Daryle Ward was scratched from the Cubs' lineup because of illness.