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Players aren't surprised by Sammy Sosa steroid allegation
No one in the Cubs and White Sox clubhouses expressed surprise at the allegation Tuesday that Sammy Sosa tested positive for steroids in 2003, including his fellow Dominicans and Frank Thomas, who watched Sosa grow from a skinny South Side teammate to a booming behemoth as a North Side rival.
"Are you shocked?" Thomas asked the questioner before the scheduled White Sox-Cubs game was postponed. "That's all I can say, are you shocked?
"I became his friend. I have nothing bad to say about him, but there are so many guys in that same situation, so are we shocked?"
Thomas, now doing commentary for Comcast SportsNet, was part of a group of players who testified in 2005 before a congressional committee probing steroids in spots. Thomas denied emphatically he ever took steroids, as did Sosa.
"[ Rafael] Palmeiro was there too and look what happened," Thomas said of Palmeiro, who later tested positive. "I was shocked [Sosa] came out last week and said what he said [about being innocent] and I think that fueled the fire."
White Sox reliever Octavio Dotel is from the Dominican Republic where Sosa still lives, which makes it even harder for him to accept.
"He's one of our leaders in the Dominican. But one thing I say, everyone makes mistakes," Dotel said. "He didn't kill nobody. He did it, a little tough mistake. But life, you have to keep going.
"It's hard to think that's true because Sammy is one of the big, big Latin American ballplayers. Sammy Sosa is everywhere -- Mexico, Colombia -- everywhere they know about baseball.
"And in my case. I'm from the Dominican, and a lot of people say, 'Oh, you're from Sammy Sosa's hometown.' It's a tough one, and it's kind of hard."
The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano also is Dominican, where Sosa is considered a hero and was an ambassador around the world after his 1998 home run battle with the Cardinals' Mark McGwire.
"He used to be my hero because I watched games growing up," Soriano said. "He knows what he did, but he's still my hero no matter what."
"I have nothing but respect for Sammy Sosa," the Cubs' Milton Bradley said. "It's unfortunate it comes down to this. Things are supposed to be confidential. Any way you look at it, it's not good.
"From the outside looking in, a lot of people would say everybody looks guilty. But if you've been around the game and know how things operate and how hard people work, then that would be [unfair] to the guys who work hard."
Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, a former Cubs and Sox pitcher, announced Sosa's games his entire Cubs career. His response when asked if he ever suspected Sosa of using steroids:
"You think the sun's going to rise in the east tomorrow?"
"I came from an era where the trainers gave out amphetamines and then they put an end to it," Stone said. "And nobody really questioned who was doing what and it wasn't my job as a broadcaster to ever question who did what. My feeling is Sammy did what he did and he will pay the same price as a lot of other guys."
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said supposedly "clean" players like Andre Dawson, Harold Baines and Thomas should have their Hall of Fame possibilities upgraded. "I'm proud of my career," Thomas said. "There were three or four guys who were very obvious [steroids users] to the eye.
"The bottom line is I came up with Bo Jackson, so I saw the biggest, strongest, fastest man ever and all of a sudden everybody was on the same level, and that's impossible."
Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales contributed to this report.