CHICAGO — Lance Berkman played against Sammy Sosa, watching him bang balls all over the park. When the Houston star heard the latest news about Slammin’ Sammy, it barely made a dent.
Sosa tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday on its Web site.
“That’s not that surprising at all,” Berkman said before the Astros played at Texas.
“There are just certain guys that you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit.”
At Wrigley Field, where Sosa hit many of his 609 home runs, Cubs slugger Derrek Lee said he never saw his former teammate take any banned substances.
Lee couldn’t avoid hearing the rumours that surrounded Sosa. Still, Lee was disappointed.
“I like to believe people are innocent until proven guilty, but now it sounds like he’s proven,” he said before the game against the Chicago White Sox was rained out.
Sosa played his final year with the Cubs in 2004. Lee came to Chicago in a trade from Florida before that season, and used to dismiss the speculation because “there was nothing ever that’d stick, so I mean what are you going to do?”
The Times, citing lawyers familiar with the case, reported Sosa is one of 104 players who tested positive in a 2003 baseball survey.
Sosa’s agent, Adam Katz, told The Associated Press he had no comment on the report.
As names on that list continue to trickle out, calls to release it are growing louder even though the tests were supposed to be confidential.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Sosa’s teammate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is in that group.
“Get it over with,” he said. “Get those names out there. Whoever is guilty is guilty. Whoever is clean is clean. And then baseball can deal with that once and that’s it. Every month, we’ve got to talk about somebody.”
Los Angeles Dodgers star Manny Ramirez is serving a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, and New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez admitted he used steroids from 2001 to 2003 with Texas.
Sosa ranks sixth on baseball’s career home run list. He last played in the majors in 2007 with Texas.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” injured Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said.
“Everybody talked about it, but I played with him for two years here and I never saw him do anything wrong.”
By the time Ramirez joined the team midway through the 2003 season in a trade with Pittsburgh, Sosa was starting to decline.