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Sosa wants to focus on World Series, not steroids


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Sosa wants to focus on World Series, not steroids

By NANCY ARMOUR, AP Sports Writer

February 25, 2004

 

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Ask Sammy Sosa about the new and improved Chicago Cubs. Or their chances to make the World Series. Or even about that pitch he took on the elbow his first day of spring training.

 

But don't ask him about steroid use in baseball, because he doesn't know anything -- and he doesn't want to.

 

``I really don't want to make a comment about that because we've got a beautiful team here,'' he said Tuesday. ``We've got something else in mind, to come here and play baseball. I don't want to make a comment because I don't have anything to talk about.''

 

That probably won't stop the questions, though. Steroid use is a hot topic at spring training this year. Anonymous survey testing last season showed 5-7 percent of the tests were positive, and Barry Bonds' personal trainer has told federal agents he gave steroids to several baseball players.

 

Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer, was one of four men charged in a steroid-distribution ring that allegedly supplied athletes with banned substances. All four pleaded innocent.

 

While no athletes have been charged, players are carefully examined as they report to spring training -- and not just by team physicians. Any weight loss or gain raises eyebrows, and seemingly everyone is suspect.

 

Sosa tried to sidestep the issue Tuesday, saying he can't control what other athletes might do.

 

``I don't want to even think about it,'' said Sosa, who looks the same as he has in previous years. ``I don't really know and I don't want to know. I know myself, I know who I am and that's it.''

 

Sosa had much more to say about the Cubs, who have made significant additions to the squad that came within five outs of the World Series last year. They added Gold Glove first baseman Derrek Lee, and bolstered their bench with Todd Walker and Todd Hollandsworth.

 

They took what was already one of the best rotations in the NL and added Greg Maddux to the foursome of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Matt Clement and Carlos Zambrano. And they plugged the holes in their bullpen, signing LaTroy Hawkins and Kent Mercker.

 

``I feel that we have a better team this year than we had last year, and we played great last year,'' Sosa said. ``We have a chance not only to go to the playoffs but to win the World Series.''

 

And it's the ring that matters to Sosa these days, not personal accolades.

 

``My goal right now is to win the World Series,'' he said. ``I'm going to let Barry Bonds continue to (chase Hank Aaron's) record. Right now, I'm focused on coming back to the playoffs and winning everything.''

 

Sosa said last season was one of the best experiences in his career. It didn't start out that way, though. He got beaned in April by a pitch so hard it shattered his batting helmet, and then he made his first trip to the disabled list since 1996 after having a nail removed from his right big toe.

 

He also was suspended seven games after cork was found in his bat June 3. Though he apologized and said it was a mistake, it tarnished his image.

 

He rebounded, though, finishing with 40 homers and 103 RBIs despite missing 25 games. He hit .262 in the playoffs, including a .308 average with two homers and six RBIs in the NL championship series.

 

``That was one of the greatest years I've ever had in my life because I was down and people were thinking I was finished,'' he said. ``I'm not. I finished where I wanted to finish.''

 

This year, he wants to go even further.

 

``We've got an awesome team,'' he said. ``I think what we didn't finish last year we're going to finish this year.''

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