Sammy Sosa took some verbal swings at his manager Tuesday night, saying Cubs skipper Don Baylor has no class.
"From the first day he got here, he has been saying some negative things about me for no reason," Sosa said. "He hasn't really treated me the way I'm supposed to be treated. And that's what I'm saying. He has got no class."
Sosa's comments appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune today. The Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Sosa became one of baseball's most popular players in 1998, hitting 66 homers as he and Mark McGwire staged a dramatic home-run race all summer long. Sosa followed that up with 63 homers last year.
But this season Baylor's first with the Cubs the slugger feels he's not getting the respect he deserves.
"When you have a superstar on your team, with the respect I have for everybody, you should never go and say something about that guy if you know that guy is going to play hard for you and be there for you every day," Sosa said.
Baylor's relationship with Sosa got off to a poor start in November when, moments after being hired, Baylor said he wanted to make Sosa a more "complete" player.
Then in January, Baylor said that when he was manager of the Colorado Rockies and hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves, Sosa was rated as a subpar defensive player.
"I thought I had been as fair as anyone can," Baylor said. "I knew what I was getting into with him. It was meant as constructive criticism, not ripping him."
Nevertheless, Baylor's comments obviously upset Sosa, who has been the subject of trade talk recently. Chicago is 24-35, 8½ games out of first place in the NL Central, and Sosa's contract runs out after next season.
Tuesday, Baylor said he didn't blame Sosa, who is batting .316 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs, for the team's poor performance this season.
"It's not his fault," Baylor said. "When you are losing consistently everybody else talks about breaking up the team. I don't put him at fault at all. I'm trying to get this team out of last place. He can help me do that."
But Baylor hasn't dismissed the possibility of trading Sosa. Over the weekend, the manager said the team would have to consider a trade if the Cubs fell further out of contention.
"Of course, with any possible trade," he said, "you'd want to heawhat you could get in return."
Sosa declined to respond when asked if he believes he might not be with the Cubs for much longer. As a player with 10 years in the major leagues and five with the same team, Sosa has the right to refuse a trade.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Sosa said. "I really want to stay here in Chicago."
Sosa added that he is concerned the negative comments might harm his relationship with the fans.
"I come here to play hard for my fans, the people who love me out there," he said. "I don't want those negative comments to get to the people who really love me and care about me, have them turn against me."
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