Sosa's confiscated bats come back cleanPosted: Wednesday June 04, 2003 7:15 PM
Updated: Wednesday June 04, 2003 9:42 PM
CHICAGO (AP) -- No cork or other foreign material was found in any of the 76 bats confiscated from Sammy Sosa's locker and X-rayed by baseball officials.
The bats were taken from the Chicago Cubs' locker room during the game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Tuesday night. Cork was found in Sosa's bat when it shattered after he grounded out in the first inning of the Cubs' 3-2 victory.
"We believe the X-ray process was sufficient to determine the state of those bats, and we're very confident all of those bats were clean and had no foreign substances within them," Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said Wednesday.
"We're happy with that, and that is consistent with Sammy's explanation of the incident last night."
Alderson said security personnel took Sosa's bats "several innings" after the cork was discovered. Alderson said he was confident all of Sosa's bats were impounded.
There is a possibility that Sosa's bats in the Hall of Fame could be examined, Alderson added. The Hall has five of Sosa's bats, including the one he presented in mid-April, more than a week after he hit his 500th home run.
Sosa said he accidentally pulled out a bat he uses to put on home run displays for fans in batting practice, and swore that he's never done anything illegal. If he was trying to cheat, he said, why wouldn't he have tried to grab the bat before anyone saw it?
"I would have come back to the plate and picked up all the pieces, don't you think?" he said Wednesday. "I didn't pick it up. I went to the dugout. So you guys can see the difference."
But that doesn't mean he's off the hook.
Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, will decide what -- if any -- punishment Sosa will face. He's expected at Wrigley Field by Thursday morning to do interviews before returning to New York to make a decision.
Other players who've used corked bats have been suspended for up to 10 games, and Alderson said he thinks precedent will play a part in Watson's decision. Sosa can appeal any discipline imposed.
"I think it would be in everyone's best interest to conclude this as quickly as possible, and be able to have a decision that is timely," Alderson said. "On the other hand, there needs to be thorough investigation.
"As I said, Sammy has been very forthcoming, and I think we are all hopeful the investigation will corroborate what he has told us," Alderson said. "So far, there is no indication in anything we have seen that his explanation is not accurate."
Sosa uses bats made by three different manufacturers. While each brand is visibly different, Alderson said all bats made by the same maker look similar. The bat Sosa used Tuesday night was made by Tuffbat.
Alderson also said baseball will look into the issue of having special bats for batting practice so a situation like this doesn't happen again.
"If this was a batting practice bat, the possibility of confusing that bat would suggest that we probably ought to be awfully careful about having any of those bats around," Alderson said. "It's not something we've looked at, but we will."
Sosa was in the lineup Wednesday night against Tampa Bay, and fans gave him a loud ovation when he did his traditional sprint to right field before the game. Several fans carried signs supporting him, including one that read, "Still loving Sammy."
When Sosa came to the plate for his first at-bat, he got a standing ovation.
"We're all human and we've all made mistakes. Nobody is perfect in this world," he said before the game. "I stood up yesterday like a man and took the blame. But the media today, they got me up there like I'm a criminal. That's something that really bothered me and hurt me."