Prior: Everybody knew he was gone
Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior told a Chicago radio station Thursday that if Sammy Sosa plans to return next spring, he needs to explain why he arrived late for the Cubs' season finale and left early, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
"I personally feel like everybody does need an apology because that's not a team move," the Sun-Times reported Prior told WSCR-AM (670).
"Everybody knew he was gone. A lot of guys were perplexed, kind of wondering. I know now that [manager Dusty Baker and general manager Jim Hendry] have said their piece and tried to make a statement."
Prior said Sosa walked out on an already frustrated team.
"I was unhappy, and it's unfortunate that it happens," Prior told WSCR. "It was a tough season, I think we all know that, it was a very frustrating season, and a lot of us were very mad and upset at what happened, especially in the last week and a half.
"But you never want to see someone bail on the team and feel they bailed on you."
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 most likely will file a grievance.
Sosa arrived 70 minutes before Sunday's first pitch, and he apparently left 15 minutes after the game started without putting on his uniform, according to security cameras in the team's parking lot at Wrigley. Sosa told the Sun-Times he was in the clubhouse until the seventh inning.
After hearing that 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 be at the ballpark and not dressed with his teammates," Hendry said.
Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, called the fine too steep. Katz acknowledged Sosa made a mistake by not being in uniform but 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 is emotionally, mentally and physically prepared and a warrior inside the lines," Katz added. "He definitely overreacted by not being in uniform and it was a mistake and he recognizes it."
The episode follows an injury-plagued season in which Sosa batted just .253 with 35 homers and 85 RBI, leading to speculation the Cubs will try to trade him.
Sosa 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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.