CHICAGO - Lance Berkman played against Sammy Sosa, watching him bang balls all over the park. When the Houston star heard the latest news about Slammin’ Sammy, it barely made a dent.
Sosa tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday on its Web site.
“That’s not that surprising at all,” Berkman said before the Astros played at Texas. “There are just certain guys that you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit.”
At Wrigley Field, where Sosa hit many of his 609 home runs, Cubs slugger Derrek Lee said he never saw his former teammate take any banned substances.
Lee couldn’t avoid hearing the rumors that surrounded Sosa. Still, Lee was disappointed.
“I like to believe people are innocent until proven guilty, but now it sounds like he’s proven,” he said before the game against the Chicago White Sox was rained out.
Sosa played his final year with the Cubs in 2004. Lee came to Chicago in a trade from Florida before that season, and used to dismiss the speculation because “there was nothing ever that’d stick, so I mean what are you going to do?”
The Times, citing lawyers familiar with the case, reported Sosa is one of 104 players who tested positive in a 2003 baseball survey.
Sosa’s agent, Adam Katz, told The Associated Press he had no comment on the report.
As names on that list continue to trickle out, calls to release it are growing louder even though the tests were supposed to be confidential.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Sosa’s teammate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is in that group.
“Get it over with,” he said. “Get those names out there. Whoever is guilty is guilty. Whoever is clean is clean. And then baseball can deal with that once and that’s it. Every month, we’ve got to talk about somebody. It’s not a good thing. It’s not healthy for the game.”
Los Angeles Dodgers star Manny Ramirez is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, and New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez admitted he used steroids from 2001 to 2003 with Texas.
“As far as being surprised, I was surprised with Manny. And after that, I mean, how can you be surprised anymore? After Manny, how can you be surprised?” Torre said.
“There are a lot of players on teams today that have been lumped in with everybody else, just because they hit a ball out of the ballpark. And the players are going to have to live through that,” he said.
Sosa ranks sixth on baseball’s career home run list. He last played in the majors in 2007 with Texas.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” injured Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. “Everybody talked about it, but I played with him for two years here and I never saw him do anything wrong.”
By the time Ramirez joined the team midway through the 2003 season in a trade with Pittsburgh, Sosa was starting to decline. He finished with 40 homers and a .279 average that year but hit .253 with 35 homers in 2004.
“He didn’t hit 60 homers when I was here. He wasn’t that kind of player when I came over here,” Ramirez said.
Baseball’s steroids scandal has not only tarnished the records of sluggers such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sosa, it has damaged their chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s just like gambling on baseball. If you’re not supposed to do it, you shouldn’t be able to get in,” Los Angeles Angels infielder Chone Figgins said. “It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Cheatin’. It’s like not paying your taxes. They eventually catch up to you.”
Baseball's steroid scandal
See some of the key players and those implicated in steroid use.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.