By adding Sammy Sosa to an already formidable batting order, the Baltimore Orioles can salvage a disappointing off-season and give their young pitching staff more margin for error.
“Maybe I’m putting my foot in my mouth,” Oriole pitching coach Ray Miller said Saturday, “but if you give me eight runs a game, I’ll figure out the rest.”
The deal to obtain Sosa from the Chicago Cubs for second baseman Jerry Hairston and at least two minor league prospects had not been finalized yet. But Baltimore can already envision a lineup with Sosa batting cleanup behind Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada and ahead of Rafael Palmeiro and Javy Lopez.
“We’ll probably hit him fourth, though we haven’t talked about it yet,” batting coach Terry Crowley said. “It’s a big addition. It will make us better; I’m just not sure how much better.”
Sosa, 36, batted .253 in 2004, struck out 133 times, missed a month with a back injury and failed to drive in 100 runs for the first time in a decade. But he hit 35 homers, more than any Oriole.
But since his home run duel with Mark McGwire in 1998, Sosa has experienced a steady drop-off in power and an increase in inappropriate behavior. He created a furor by skipping the Cubs’ finale last season, and was suspended for seven games in 2003 for corking his bat.