Results tagged ‘ Sammy Sosa ’

9/23 A walk in the park

Carlos Pena drew two walks Friday, and now has 96 for the season, a modern day record for Cubs’ first basemen. The old mark was 95, set by Mark Grace in 2000. Since 2001, only Sammy Sosa has more walks in a single-season for the cubs. He drew 116 walks in 2001 and 103 in 2002.

— Carrie Muskat

8/17 Sosa: Retiring is “a different ballgame”

Sammy Sosa knows all about life after baseball, and planned on reaching out to Carlos Zambrano to remind him that once you retire, “it’s a different ballgame.” Sosa, 42, who played 18 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 1992-2004 with the Cubs, said Wednesday he planned on calling Zambrano, who is currently on the disqualified list. Zambrano served up five home runs to the Braves last Friday in Atlanta, was ejected from the game after hitting Chipper Jones, and then packed his gear in his locker and said he was retiring.

On Monday, Zambrano changed his story and said he wanted to stay with the Cubs, saying his comments about retirement were made in “a moment of frustration.” The team placed him on the disqualified list, used when players violate the terms of their contract or of the collective bargaining agreement. Sosa also had an early exit from the Cubs. On Oct. 3, 2004, he left the last regular season game early and without permission, and was subsequently fined by Cubs GM Jim Hendry.

Sosa didn’t retire, though, and was traded to the Orioles. He played one season with Baltimore and another with Texas in 2007 before retiring. Sosa now lives in Miami and the Dominican Republic, and said he prepared for life after baseball.

“Players think that when they sign a contract, everything is easy,” Sosa said Wednesday. “When you retire and you try to do something besides baseball, it’s not easy. It’s tough. When you think everything is going to be the same and so easy as when you played baseball, it’s not that way anymore. I want to make sure [players] understand that. I want to speak to a lot of players. I want to tell them to save their money.

“I see a lot of players make all their money in baseball and when they retire it’s a mess,” he said. “They surround themselves with some bad people. There’s so many bad people outside waiting to get their money.

“That reaction [on Friday] cost [Zambrano] $3 million,” Sosa said. “Maybe he doesn’t need it now, but later on he will. That’s money he worked hard for all his life.”

Sosa now has other businesses, including oil companies and housing projects. He also operates a baseball academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic and the Cubs have signed two players from there.

He’s excited about a nephew, a right-handed hitting outfielder, whom Sosa said has “more potential than I had.”

“He can fly — he’s amazing,” Sosa said proudly of his brother’s son. “What a talent. Another Sosa.”

Whether the youngster has the potential to hit 60 homers or win a National League MVP award, which his uncle did, remains to be seen. The youth is only 16 years old.

Until then, Sosa will act as mentor, and try to do the same for Zambrano and others thinking about leaving the game.

“All my friends retire, and if they didn’t take care of their money, they go back to being a coach,” Sosa said. “It seems to me if they don’t know how to do anything else, they become a coach. They have to plan for their future and career after baseball.

“When you retire, it’s a different ballgame,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

5/3 Castro on SI cover

Look who’s on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine: It’s Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

The story headline is “The Education of a Shortstop,” with the subhead, “Starlin Castro, 21-year-old Cubs phenom, grows up before our eyes.” It’s the first time a Cubs player has been featured on the magazine’s cover since Aramis Ramirez was on the Sept. 29, 2008, cover, although Carlos Zambrano was included on the cover in the baseball preview edition April 6, 2009. Sammy Sosa has been on four SI covers, Kerry Wood two, Kosuke Fukudome one, and Alfonso Soriano and Lou Piniella combined on one in February 2007.

— Carrie Muskat

2/3 Where were you …

… on Feb. 2, 2005? That’s the day the Cubs traded Sammy Sosa and his 574 career homers to the Orioles in exchange for Mike Fontenot, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dave Crouthers. Chicago also signed free agent Jeromy Burnitz to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, part of the never-ending search for left-handed power. “Obviously, it’s a historic day,” Cubs GM Jim Hendry said at the time of the deal. “Everybody feels like it was the right thing to do.” Sosa hit 14 homers and drove in 45 runs in 102 games in his only season with the Orioles. He played with the Rangers in 2007 before retiring.

What about the others? Hairston batted .261 in 114 games with the Cubs in 2005, Fontenot spent that year in the Minors, getting called up for seven games in April-May. Crouthers never made it to the big leagues but retired in Spring Training in ’05. In a September 2005 interview with “Inside the Ivy,” he said he left the game because of anxiety issues. Crouthers credited the Cubs staff, particularly pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Hendry, for being supportive. “My decision really had nothing to do with the Cubs or being traded,” he said. “It just got to the point where I didn’t feel like I could compete.” He re-enrolled at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Burnitz hit 24 homers and drove in 87 in 160 games with the Cubs, batting .258 with a .435 slugging percentage. He played one more season with the Pirates in ’06 before retiring.

— Carrie Muskat

7/21 Ramirez HR/RBI numbers

Aramis Ramirez hit three homers and drove in seven runs on Tuesday, his fourth three-homer game to tie Albert Pujols for the most among active players and tie Ernie Banks for the second-most in Cubs history. Sammy Sosa has the most three-homer games with six, which ties him with Johnny Mize for the Major League record.

Ramirez also has nine homers and 24 RBIs in his last 12 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only two other Cubs batters have had at least nine homers and 24 RBIs over a dozen games: Hack Wilson (1928) and Sosa (in both 1998 and 2002).

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 The 300 club

Both Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano are one swing away from joining the 300 homer club. Lee hit No. 299 on Tuesday and Soriano reached that mark on Sunday.

If they do connect in the same game, they won’t be the first to do so. On April 13, 2009, the White Sox’s Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko not only both reached 300 in the same game, but in back to back at-bats at Detroit.

So far, 125 players have hit 300 home runs, including six who reached the milestone with the Cubs. The most recent was Sammy Sosa on June 26, 1999.

— Carrie Muskat

5/5 Soriano 1 HR away from club mark

Alfonso Soriano is on the verge of a club record heading into Wednesday’s game. He has hit in four straight games for the first time in his career, and needs a homer Wednesday to tie the Cubs’ all-time record of five straight games, shared by Sammy Sosa (June 3-8, 1998), Ryne Sandberg (Aug. 7-11, 1989), and Hack Wilson (July 3-7, 1928).

Soriano and teammate Derrek Lee both have 297 career homers, and are in a race to see who will be the 126th Major League player to reach 300.

— Carrie Muskat

4/19 Best/worst Cubs trades

A new book rates the best and worst Cubs trades of the 20th century. According to “Traded: Inside the Most Lopsided Trades in Baseball History,” the Cubs ranked 12th of all teams. Author Doug Decatur uses “Win Shares,” a statistic developed by baseball guru Bill James to determine how many wins a player contributes to his team, to rank the 306 most lopsided trades.

Here are the top five positive lopsided trades for the Cubs:

1982 Ryne Sandberg for Ivan DeJesus
1966 Ferguson Jenkins for Larry Jackson
1992 Sammy Sosa for George Bell
1995 Luis Gonzalez for Rick Wilkins
1918 Pete Alexander for Mike Prendergast

Here are the Cubs’ five worst lopsided trades:

1989 Mitch Williams for Rafael Palmeiro
1964 Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock
1934 Don Hurst for Dolph Camilli
1983 Steve Trout for Scott Fletcher
1939 Cash for Harry Brecheen

— Carrie Muskat

3/21 Byrd: "I'm here to win"

On Sunday, before Marlon Byrd even got to HoHoKam, he had already taken a few swings in front of the mirror in his Arizona condo. He then drove to the park, much earlier than the other regulars, got dressed, had his breakfast, and was ready to hit. But as Byrd was headed to the batting cages, Rudy Jaramillo was walking in. The two joked about the timing — and, naturally, Jaramillo turned around to go back to the cage with the Cubs new center fielder.

The key to Byrd’s success is keeping a routine. He’ll never forget when he first joined the Phillies. Finding a routine that worked was the advice he got from Jim Thome.

“It’s just over tme, finding a routine, picking from all the guys I’ve come up with,” Byrd said. “My rookie year, I came up with Jim Thome, Jose Mesa, Billy Wagner, Dan Plesac, Rheal Cormier, Tim Worrell. I started picking things from all those guys I played with, all the veterans over the years.”

When Byrd went to the Nationals in 2005-06, he watched veterans like Marlon Anderson, Royce Clayton and Vinny Castilla and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. Byrd still tapes his bat the way Wil Cordero showed him. He has learned from Eddie Guardado, Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr. When he went to Texas, Byrd watched Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa. What did he pick up from Sosa?

“Routine,” Byrd said. “[Batting] cage routine. He said, ‘You do the same routine every single day in the cage, never change.’ Over the years, it’s developed.”

On Saturday, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano said he has enjoyed watching new teammates like Xavier Nady and Byrd.

“I like Marlon Byrd a lot and the way he goes about his business,” Zambrano said. “He just cares about playing baseball. He came here on a mission. People count more on [Derrek Lee] and Aramis [Ramirez] to drive this team but he’s there. He wants to be part of those three dangerous hitters, 3-4-5. That’s a good thing.”

Is Byrd on a mission?

“Yes,” Byrd said. “I’m here. I’m here to win. I’m not here to replace anybody or anything or all that, I’m here to help this team win. They came and got me not because they needed a good clubhouse guy but because they needed somebody to play center field and do it well and I know I can do that. I’m getting myself ready to go out there and play as many games as possible.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/6/10 The Hawk & Sammy

One of my favorite Andre Dawson stories involved him and Sammy Sosa. The Cubs were in Montreal, and Dawson told Sosa, then in his first season with the team, to go see a tailor he knew and pick out a couple suits. The Hawk would pick up the tab, a ritual that continues today on most Major League teams in which veteran players take care of rookies. I’ll let Dawson tell the story:

“I go there and I have a $2,000 bill,” Dawson said. “I asked Sammy, ‘What happened?’ And he said, “Well, I pick the suit but I pick the one I like.”

“I said, ‘For $2,000, you could get three or four suits.’ And he said, “No. Silk. Very, very nice. I like it.”

— Carrie Muskat