Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sosa, Palmeiro not returning to O's

Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa won't be with the Orioles in 2006.
The two players were disappointments for the Orioles in 2005 for different reasons, and executive vice president Mike Flanagan confirmed on Sunday what many had believed for a while.
"At this point, we are heading in a different direction," Flanagan told The Baltimore Sun.
The Orioles acquired Sosa in a trade last winter while looking for a bat that would add some more punch to their lineup. Instead, he never got going and hit only .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.
Sosa also missed time with injuries and struggled from start to finish, never finding his way in the American League. He now has 588 home runs and reportedly is interested in trying to reach the 600-homer milestone. Sosa has denied reports that he will play in Japan next year.
Palmeiro had a true up-and-down season. He got his 3,000th hit against Seattle in July, but everything fell apart after that. The first baseman/designated hitter was suspended shortly thereafter for testing positive in a drug test and only played a little after that while gaining national notoriety because he had told a Congressional hearing that he'd never used steroids.
The question now is who might be interested in the two players. Palmeiro might still want to play to end his career on a better note and possibly explain the circumstances of the drug test.
Both would seem to be a solution for a team that needs designated hitters. Palmeiro was supposed to be that for the Orioles, but eventually became the everyday first baseman. Sosa eventually moved into the designated hitter role as the season moved on.

Flanagan said last week that the Orioles are hopeful to have a season that was more like the first part of last year, when they competed for the American League East title.
"I think we're going into the winter optimistic," Flanagan said. "The club had a lot of distractions, to say the least."


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