Rangers expect Sosa to regain '60-homer form'
Spring Training '07 Preview: Texas Rangers
General Manager Jon Daniels knows that his Texas Rangers had some problems last year: starting pitching, bullpen, the list goes on and on. The Rangers' most glaring flaw, however, besides every other imaginable aspect of baseball, was their inability to hit home runs.
Daniels could have sat idly by or made some minor cosmetic changes and pretended everything was all better, but instead, he went out and made a huge splash.
How big of a splash?
Try Sammy Sosa. As in, "three-time sixty home run hitter" Sammy Sosa.
"I couldn't believe no one had signed Sammy Sosa," Daniels explained. "When I saw he was available, I assumed it was like Jorge Sosa or some young Diamondbacks guy I'd never heard of, but when I called him in, it was really him! How did everyone forget about him, did they all just assume he was signed? Here was a guy with 588 career home runs, and he was more than willing to accept a minor league contract. What a rare find! Talented and modest."
Asked if he believed Sosa could actually duplicate his 60-HR totals from seasons past, Daniels answered, "Yeah, of course he can. Why couldn't he? How much could have possibly changed in a couple years? The guy had knee problems in 2003 and he still hit 40 homers. What, did he just get all weak now or something? In three years? How much sense does that make?"
The rest of the Rangers' front-office has echoed Daniels' enthusiasm about the Sosa signing.
Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine recalls, "When Jon said he was looking for more power, I said, 'I got two words for you: Sammy... Sosa!' I thought it was a funny joke, but I think Jon took it a little too far when he actually signed him. Although, Frank Thomas going to Oakland last year happened after someone lost a bet, and that actually turned out alright."
As for Sosa himself, when asked if he felt he could regain his 60-HR form, the slugger responded with guarded optimism.
"Ummm - probably not?" replied a characteristically modest Sosa. "I guess I could maybe get a ball over a fence now, if there's a whole bunch of wind or something, I haven't really tried in like a year. I doubt I can hit the ball 500 feet anymore, but that's mostly just because I'm older; you know how getting older makes you a whole, whole lot weaker. I am a little more experienced now, and I do know the pitchers a little better, so maybe something in the 8-11 HR range isn't out of the question."