Saying it's too soon to worry, Sosa shows why with first homer


He just misses in first before shot in 3rd

Ryan goes 1 1/3 for first '05 save


April 13, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - If Orioles right fielder Sammy Sosa wants to get into coaching, he should head straight to the third base box. He's pretty good at giving the stop sign.

Standing at his locker before last night's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Sosa held up both hands when reminded by a reporter that he still didn't have a home run or RBI this season.

"I don't want to talk about that," he said, grinning. "Everything's going to be OK. Relax. Take it easy.

"They don't make the season one week. It's seven months."

He only needed three innings, driving Scott Kazmir's pitch into the left-field seats to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 3-2. He barely missed an opposite-field home run in the first inning and tripled to lead off the fifth.

He said he felt "great" at the plate despite being 5-for-25 with one extra-base hit going into last night.

"I feel awesome. Everything's going to be all right," he said.

Sosa, 36, also disputed a report in the Dominican newspaper El Caribe that he plans to retire before his 40th birthday.

"That doesn't make any sense, but I guess everything I say is a headline," he said.

"I was surprised when I got here and people told me about it. I guess you can't joke with anybody else."

Sosa made his first visit to Tropicana Field yesterday, but he has an embarrassing history with the Devil Rays. He was ejected from a June 3, 2003, game against Tampa Bay at Wrigley Field, and later suspended, when his shattered bat contained cork.

Ryan gets his chance

Handed the closer's job in spring training, Orioles left-hander B.J. Ryan began last night waiting to receive a save opportunity.

Like Sosa, his wait would end as he pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings to preserve the Orioles' 7-6 victory.

Ryan had appeared in three games, none of them while trying to protect a slim lead. He finished up a 4-0 victory on Opening Day, and pitched an inning each in 12-5 and 7-2 wins over the New York Yankees.

"A win's a win. It doesn't matter if you're up one run or six, you want to end it right there," he said. "Get out there and do your job."

Ryan allowed a run in both Yankee Stadium appearances, including Hideki Matsui's bases-empty shot Friday. He struck out the other three batters.

The Japanese media surrounded Ryan in the clubhouse, proving once again that anything Matsui does is news back home, even in a blowout loss.

Ryan's contract runs out this year, and he can become a free agent. The Orioles had some preliminary talks with his agent over the winter and in spring training, but none since the season started.

"You go out there and do your job, and at the end of the year, you look back and see what happens," he said.

"It's not something I think about or worry about during the season. I know how much time I have in and the options that are going to be out there. Everybody in baseball knows that when they get to that point. But you just go out there and play hard for the team that you're with right now, and you hopefully get a deal done. If not, you move on."

Ryan's been in the organization since a July 31, 1999, trade with the Cincinnati Reds. With the exception of one game with the Reds, his entire major league experience has come with the Orioles, the team he'd prefer to pitch for in 2006 and beyond.

"This is what I know," he said. "Except for three days in Cincinnati, this has been my home. These are the guys I came up playing with. There's a sense of loyalty. But it's also a business.

"It's a tough situation, but it's just something you have to deal with."

Father Time

Outfielder B.J. Surhoff became the eighth-oldest player in club history, at 40 years, 8 months and 3 days, when he made his 2005 debut on Thursday. Former catcher Rick Dempsey was the oldest at 43 years, 14 days.

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