Toe still hurting, Sosa heads home, perhaps closing his O's career


Perlozzo, Beattie expect him back in last 3 1/2 weeks


September 08, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

They were the first pair of teammates to each have 500 home runs, but after tumultuous seasons, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa can't even be seen in an Orioles uniform these days.

Two days after Palmeiro returned to Texas to rehab his right knee and ankle, Sosa left his teammates and headed to his Florida home, unable to play because of a lesion on his right big toe that has kept him on the disabled list and out of the Orioles' lineup since Aug. 25.

Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo and executive vice president Jim Beattie expect Sosa to return to the team before the season ends in 3 1/2 weeks, but the possibility exists that Sosa, 36, has played his last game in an Orioles' uniform.

Sosa is a free agent at the end of the season and the Orioles are not expected to re-sign the likely future Hall of Famer, who has had a miserable season, hitting .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs while playing just 102 games because of injuries and ineffectiveness.

"Rather than push it, hopefully he'll be back at some point at the end of the year," Beattie said. "This injury happened to him a couple of years ago [in Chicago] and it took a long time to heal. We're going to give him that time."

When he rejoined the team on Monday, Sosa, who also was on the disabled list for almost three weeks earlier this season because of an abscess and staph infection on the bottom of his left foot, said that the toe, which had half of the nail removed, was feeling better, but still causing some pain.

Perlozzo said that it is his understanding that Sosa will be gone at least another "seven to 10 days."

"It was entirely collaborative," said Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, on the decision for the player to return home. Katz also said that he has not discussed his client's status next year with Orioles management. "He's not ready. He can't run right now and he feels more comfortable at home. That's really all there is."

Ponson clears waivers

Pitcher Sidney Ponson, whose contract was terminated by the Orioles last week after his third arrest in nine months, cleared waivers on Tuesday, eliminating the final hurdle for the Major League Baseball Players Association to file a grievance.

An industry source, who requested anonymity because of the legal nature of the grievance, said that the players association will likely file a grievance "within the next week." Based on the time line, a hearing before an arbiter, who will hear the case if no settlement is reached, won't take place until at least November, the source said.

Tejada moves up on list

A night after helping the Orioles commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Cal Ripken's record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game, shortstop Miguel Tejada took another step up on baseball's all-time iron man list.

Tejada played in his 895th straight game last night, moving into a tie with Stan Musial for seventh place on baseball's longest consecutive-games list, which is topped by Ripken's 2,632 straight games.

Tejada caught Ripken's pregame ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday.

"It was really special for me because [on the night of Ripken's 2,131st game], I was in my first year in the United States and I was just watching the television," Tejada said. "At the time, I really didn't understand English, so I didn't know what he did. But the chance to catch the first pitch, that makes me really proud."

It's happened before

When Walter Young hit the B&O warehouse on the fly in batting practice on Tuesday, the 6-foot-5, 322-pound rookie wasn't particularly impressed by his accomplishment. When informed about it, the mammoth first baseman offered little more than a polite shrug.

Nobody has ever hit the warehouse during a game, but Ken Griffey struck it with a blast in the home run derby before the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards. Jay Gibbons has also hit it several times during batting practice, as have some visiting players.

"I don't know how many times I've hit it in five years, but it's reachable," said Gibbons, who has gotten letters from people in the warehouse informing him later that he had hit it.

"When I've done it, it's been optimal conditions - humid day usually and I absolutely crush it, because you have to hit it real high, too. It happens a few times a year in batting practice, maybe. It's certainly not an everyday thing."

Around the horn

Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun hit his ninth homer, his first since connecting off Daniel Cabrera at Camden Yards on Aug. 12. ... Toronto won the season series 10-9 and avoided falling three games under .500 for the first time this year.

Sun staff writer Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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