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Sosa Vows to Get Back to All-Star Game

July 7, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) _ Sammy Sosa understood why he was left off the NL All-Star team. He was still disappointed,

``It’s something that I’m going to miss this year, but I will be back next year,″ he said Sunday. ``I just was out pretty much for a month. It hurt, and my numbers aren’t quite there.″

The six-time All-Star, who had made the team for five straight seasons, is hitting .291 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs _ not even good enough to lead his own team.

He missed 17 games after having the nail on his right big toe removed, and was suspended for seven games after cork was discovered in one of his bats June 3.

During interleague play with the crosstown Chicago White Sox, host of the All-Star game on July 15, Sosa wore earplugs during batting practice and was greeted by chants of ``Corky! Corky!″ during the game. Fans lampooned Sosa with signs that read ``Scammy Sosa″ and ``Got Cork?″

``I think it might be a good idea that Sammy use this break and go underground, with all the hoopla and everything that was possibly going to surround Sammy at the All-Star game,″ said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, also the manager of the NL All-Stars.

Sosa was second among NL outfielders in totals released last Tuesday with 894,156 votes, trailing Barry Bonds (1,157,384) and ahead of Gary Sheffield (811,239) and Albert Pujols (793,109).

After the final votes were in, Pujols led with 2,030,702, followed by Bonds, Sheffield and Sosa with 1,390,355.

Sosa said he wasn’t surprised by the late surge for Pujols.

``Pujols is having an unbelievable year, no doubt about it,″ he said. ``He’s leading the league in everything.″

In years past, that would have described Sosa.

Sosa’s three 60-homer seasons are the most in major league history, and his home run chase with slugger Mark McGwire during the 1998 season endeared him to fans.

Sosa didn’t say what he will do during the All-Star break. It’s been awhile since he’s had to make that decision.

``I’ll be there next year,″ he said. ``You have to get ready for the second half. With those three days, I can use the days to get ready and come back.″

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