Sosa ejected after cork is found in shattered bat
Tuesday, June 3
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa was ejected in the first inning of Tuesday night's game against Tampa Bay right when umpires found cork in his shattered bat.
ESPN's Harold Reynolds reports -- after talking to a a representative in the Cubs public relations department -- that Sosa will admit in his postgame presser that the bat he used tonight was corked.
Sosa will say the illegal bat was used for batting practice, but somehow got mixed in with his game bats. He will add that he has never used a corked bat in a major league game before tonight.
The Cubs had runners at second and third when Sosa broke his bat with a grounder to second that at first appeared to drive in a run.
But crew chief Tim McClelland gathered with the other three umpires to examine the bat. Cubs manager Dusty Baker came out and the umpires showed the bat to him.
Mark Grudzielanek was sent back to third base, the run was wiped off the board and Sosa was ejected as he stood in the dugout. Umpires took part of the bat into the Cubs dugout and down the runway toward their clubhouse.
Cork inside a wooden bat is thought to help players hit the ball farther and is against baseball rules. Several players have been caught using altered bats in the past, including Albert Belle, Wilton Guerrero, Billy Hatcher and Graig Nettles.
"Unfortunately, it's a dirty mark, when you consider all he's accomplished,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Sosa. "It's really unfortunate for the game. Everybody's scratching their heads right now. ... It's embarrassing. He's too good of a player. It's too bad.''
Sosa just came off the disabled last Friday after having the nail taken off his big right toe and missing 17 games.
Entering Tuesday, he was just 2-for-15 in his three games since coming off the DL, including one five-strikeout game in which he also had the game-winning single against Houston.
Sosa, a six-time All-Star who reached 500 career homers earlier this season, hasn't had a homer since May 1 and his power numbers have dropped drastically since he was beaned April 20 by the Pirates' Salomon Torres.
He has just six homers this season and 24 RBI, while batting .285.
Sosa has the most 60-homer seasons (three) in major league history, hitting 66 in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001.
Chicago's then Comiskey Park was the site of one of baseball's biggest corked bat capers in July 1994 when the bat of Belle, then with Cleveland, was confiscated.
Umpires took it to their dressing room before an Indians teammate crawled across the ceiling and switched Belle's confiscated bat with one belonging to a teammate.
Once the caper was discovered, the original bat was finally examined and Belle was suspended for 10 games, a penalty that was reduced to seven games.
Guerrero, then with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was suspended for eight games in 1997 for using cork in his bat.
Hatcher was suspended for 10 days in 1987 after using a corked bat for Houston. It was the first such ejection since Nettles, then with the New York Yankees, was tossed in 1974.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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