Sammy crushes one onto Waveland

Updated: June 9, 2004, 12:27 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa's back passed the ultimate test: The Wrigley Field fences.

Sosa took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list and hit seven home runs, including a monster shot that cleared the fence in left field and was last seen bouncing on Waveland Avenue. Sosa also hit off a tee before batting practice.

"Everything feels good," he said after batting practice, banging his elbow three times on a clubhouse table. "But we have to wait until tomorrow."

If there are no setbacks, Sosa hopes to return in a week to 10 days.

"It's not fun (watching)," he said. "But I'm back in business and I'm very happy. When I return to the lineup, I'll be happy again."

Sosa has been on the disabled list since May 16 because of a sprained ligament in his back, brought on by two violent sneezes. He's been doing physical therapy, but still had pain Saturday when he took a few swings in the batting cage.

On Tuesday, the pain was gone.

"I feel 35 again," Sosa cracked. After he went on the disabled list, the slugger said his back was so sore he felt like he was 95.

"I'm very happy that I'm not in any pain, that I can swing normal again," Sosa said. "Today I feel great. I feel 100 percent."

He certainly looked it during batting practice. Taking about 32 swings, Sosa hit to left, center and right fields, and one of his shots hit a camera above the batter's background in center.

Fans cheered each of the homers, and applauded again as he left the field after batting practice. Sosa smiled and tapped his chest in response.

The fans aren't the only ones anxious for Sosa to return. The Cubs are 8-12 without him and have dropped to fourth place in the NL Central, beginning the day 4 games behind Cincinnati.

The Cubs also are without Kerry Wood (triceps), closer Joe Borowski (shoulder), shortstop Alex Gonzalez (broken wrist) and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek (Achilles' tendon).

"Everybody knows they're going through a tough situation right now," Sosa said. "You've got to give credit to the team. We've been kind of struggling, but we're still over .500."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press