Sosa says he'll be back for '08 season

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Even though he has become a part-time player for the Texas Rangers since joining the 600-homer club, Sammy Sosa still plans for his comeback to be longer than one season.

"If it's not here, it will be somewhere else, believe me," said Sosa, who has started only 10 of the Rangers' last 26 games. "I feel great. Definitely, I want to play another year."

When Sosa returned with his original team this spring after a yearlong hiatus from the major leagues, he said he was coming back for more than the 12 home runs needed to join the 600 club.

Sosa is hitting .247 with 17 home runs and a team-high 74 RBIs in his 100 games for Texas, but it seems likely that he will have to go to another team if he plays a 19th season.

"Given our slow start and our (trading) deadline activity, we've taken a different course and are going to continue to give opportunity to young players with ability," general manager Jon Daniels said Monday, adding that there haven't been decisions on specific spots for next season.

Sosa hit his 605th career homer Sunday night, a 430-foot drive in the first inning that put the last-place Rangers ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory over AL wild-card leader Seattle.

That was Sosa's first homer since July 27, five days before the Rangers -- who had traded Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne -- told Sosa about their plans to evaluate younger players that would reduce his playing time.

"I was sitting home last year doing nothing and this team gave me the opportunity to be back and play baseball again. I'm not going to disrespect nobody," Sosa said. "I feel that I have to deal with the situation that is now, and it's tough."

Sosa was a lanky 16-year-old when he originally signed with the Rangers in 1985, four years before he made his major league debut and then was traded to the Chicago White Sox for three seasons. With the Cubs from 1992-2004, Sosa was a seven-time All-Star, hit 545 of his home runs and became the only player with three 60-homer seasons.

The Rangers gave Sosa a minor league deal this season, and he made the roster in spring training for a base salary of $600,000.

"Sammy's done just about everything we've asked since day one," Daniels said. "He's been great in the clubhouse, in the community, and on the field -- especially versus lefties."

When it became clear that youngsters like Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz would get more time, Sosa decided that he would "stay ready, stay in shape" for when it was his turn to play.

"He's handling it as professionally as you could possibly handle it," manager Ron Washington said. "He understands the situation we're in. ... He's not bitter at anyone. When he sees his name in the lineup, he just goes and plays."

Sosa spent last summer in the Dominican Republic, having returned home after a tumultuous 2005 in which he testified before Congress about possible steroid use in baseball and struggled in his only season with Baltimore (.221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs in 102 games).

Like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, Sosa is suspected by some of having used steroids before they were banned by baseball. But Sosa has never been penalized for a positive steroids test and was not involved in the BALCO scandal that has dogged Bonds, the career home run leader (761) and only active player with more.

Sosa joined Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the 600-homer club on June 20 against the Cubs. He was among the AL leaders in homers and RBIs at the time.

Now, Sosa is having to wait for his rare chances to play -- and to find out where he will be next season.

"I'm going to sit down and see what happens after the season," Sosa said. "This is the major leagues. This is where I belong."