Slumping Sosa gets time off to regroup

Mazzilli asks O's slugger to try `clearing his head' with some time on bench

July 03, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli met with Sammy Sosa for about 35 minutes in his office before yesterday's game, hoping to ease the pressure on the struggling outfielder.

Mazzilli also gave Sosa, who is hitless in his past 15 at-bats and in the midst of a 1-for-34 slump, the afternoon off in the Orioles' 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards, but wouldn't commit to how long Sosa will remain on the bench.

"I don't think he'll be out a few days," said Mazzilli. "I don't know yet. I really can't give you a definitive answer on that. We'll talk about that tomorrow [today]."

Mazzilli talked to Sosa about "clearing his head more than anything. I think sometimes we need to maybe take a step back and clear your mind. There's no pressure," the Orioles manager said.

Sosa said the meeting went well, but declined to say what he and his manager discussed. He also said that he didn't mind being out of the lineup for yesterday's game.

"I am not disappointed," said Sosa. "It's just one day. What's the whole deal? I've been in this situation before. Baseball is like that. I have to deal with it. The only thing I can do is continue playing, just go out there every day and try to get out of my [slump].

"Get a day off, two days off, three days off, whatever it takes," Sosa, 36, said. "Right now, like I said, [Mazzilli] is in my corner and I like that very much. He's trying to help me in a lot of different ways, give me a day here, a day there if it's possible. He wants me just to relax."

Sosa did admit that he hasn't struggled like this "in a long time." Since coming off the 15-day disabled list on May 24 after the abscess and staph infection on the bottom of his left foot healed, Sosa is hitting just .186 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 33 games.

He is three for his past 42 at the plate, his average dropping to .227, and he doesn't have an RBI in 10 games. Clearly struggling to find the power stroke that has resulted in 583 career home runs, tied for sixth with Mark McGwire on baseball's all-time home run list, Sosa hasn't gotten the ball out of the infield in his past 10 at-bats dating back to Monday's game against the New York Yankees.

On this homestand, Sosa, who has been studying videotapes of his at-bats this season, has been booed nearly every time he steps up to the plate at Camden Yards.

"I don't worry about that," he said curtly, before ending the interview.

Said Mazzilli: "Sammy will be fine. We talked about a few things and I said, `Sammy, whatever happened the last few months, the second half is where you are going to take this team as well.'"

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