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Sosa tells of dismay over batting sixth

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Sammy Sosa was
humiliated by being dropped to sixth in the Chicago Cubs lineup,
and claims he was mistreated by the club.

When he struggled down the stretch of the season, Cubs manager
Dusty Baker lowered the slugger in the batting order -- much to
Sosa's dismay.

"I'm not a sixth batter," Sosa told Hoy newspaper in Santo
Domingo on Saturday upon returning to his native Dominican
Republic. "I'm a cleanup hitter or third because I've earned that
right with almost 600 career home runs."

Sosa, 35, batted .253 this season - his lowest average since
1997. In 126 games, he had 35 homers and 80 RBIs, ending his run of
nine straight 100-RBI seasons.

The season ended on a sour note for Sosa and the Cubs. Chicago
squandered its wild-card lead with a severe slide in the final
week, and the Cubs were eliminated on the second-to-last day.

Sosa arrived late to the finale at Wrigley Field and then left
the game early without playing. The Cubs fined him $87,500 - one
day's salary -- because of his actions.

"I know I screwed up and I can assure you that I've asked for
forgiveness," Sosa told the newspaper. "But I also need to say
that I felt poorly treated.

"So many things happened that I was in shock. I needed to rest
that day because I wasn't going to be able to give it my best."

Sosa has a year left on his contract that will pay him $17
million, and the club has an option for 2006. Trade rumors have
already started, and the New York Mets are reportedly interested.

The former All-Star has hit 574 home runs during 16 major league
seasons, and Sosa says he plans to play into his 40s.

"I'm going to play at least another five or six seasons,
hitting 35 home runs a year," he said. "That would allow me to
finish my career with 700 home runs."