Sosa caught on camera leaving after first pitch
CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa was fined $87,400 -- one day's salary -- for arriving late to the Cubs' regular-season finale at Wrigley Field and leaving the game early. The slugger's agent said Thursday that Sosa intends to file a grievance.
Sosa arrived 70 minutes before Sunday's first pitch, and he apparently left 15 minutes after the game started without ever putting on his uniform, according to security cameras in the team's parking lot at Wrigley Field. Sosa told the Chicago Sun-Times he was in the clubhouse until the seventh inning.
After hearing that manager Dusty Baker told reporters he wanted Sosa to be in top shape next season, an angry Sosa told the newspaper he was tired of Baker blaming him for the Cubs' failures.
"It's certainly inexcusable for him not to be at the ballpark and not dressed with his teammates," general manager Jim Hendry said.
Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, called the fine too steep. Katz acknowledged Sosa made a mistake by not being in uniform but said the entire matter has been overblown.
"I think, on balance, with all the surrounding issues, the fine is severe," he said. "Sammy is a baseball player who delivers everything he has. He definitely overreacted by not being in uniform and it was a mistake and he recognizes it."
According to Tuesday's Chicago Tribune, Sosa asked a team trainer on Saturday to tell Baker he was too sore to play in Sunday's season finale. To that end, Sosa arrived at Wrigley not expecting to play.
"He wasn't going to play," Katz told ESPN's Karl Ravech on Thursday. "He was nicked up. Was it wrong not to be there? Sure. [But] the fine is too severe. Sammy had no idea it would blow up like this. He made a mistake, but to this magnitude, give me a break."
Releasing the information indicating Sosa was caught on tape leaving demonstrates how seriously the Cubs viewed Sosa's transgression.
The friction between the Cubs and Sosa, following an injury-plagued season in which Sosa hit 35 home runs and batted only .253 -- his lowest average since 1997 -- has led to speculation Chicago will try to trade him. Sosa spent time this season on the DL with back problems brought on by a violent sneeze. His 80 RBI ended his run of 100-RBI seasons at nine.
Katz said that's not what Sosa wants.
"That has not even been considered," he said. "Sammy loves the Cubs, and he loves the community. This is stuff that can easily be worked out. These are good people -- people who care deeply about winning. They're elite performers and elite men, and they care about each other. ... I have a very warm and affectionate relationship with this front office. But I respectfully disagree with them on how this was handled."
Sosa's contract will make it difficult for the Cubs to move him. He is to make $17 million next season and the club has an $18 million option for 2006 with a $4.5 million buyout. If Sosa is traded, his 2006 contract becomes guaranteed and a 2007 club option is added at $19 million with a $4.5 million buyout.
Katz said he hopes to arrange a phone conversation between Sammy, Baker and Hendry to clear the air.
"I fully expect this to be a non-issue within the next several days," he said.
Information from Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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