Sosa's role reduced to reserve
Rangers want to look at Botts as designated hitter
CLEVELAND -- Sammy Sosa, fifth on baseball's all-time home run list and the Rangers' leader in RBIs, will ride out the final two months of the season as a reserve outfielder and occasional pinch-hitter.Jason Botts, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma on Wednesday, now is the Texas designated hitter, and he batted fourth against the Indians on Wednesday night. Sosa was informed in a pregame meeting with manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels that his playing time will be drastically reduced so the Rangers can look at Botts over the final two months. "It was a difficult conversation," Daniels said. "You're looking at a likely Hall of Famer and you're asking him to take a lesser role. He signed up to play, he's been productive and he has been a team guy. He has done everything we have asked. But we need to see Jason play, and we're committed to that." Sosa was hitting .239 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs going into Wednesday's game. But the Rangers are in last place in the American League West, and after trading Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne on Tuesday, they have turned their attention toward preparing for the 2008 season. Sosa said he understood the situation. "They have some young guys they want to see," Sosa said. "I'm very proud of the chance they have given me. I came through like a slugger and proved a lot of people wrong. I feel great about what I've done. But I understand they want to see young kids and they want to see Jason Botts at DH. I have no problem with that." The Rangers talked to other clubs about Sosa before the trade deadline, but they found no takers. He hit just .179 with two home runs and seven RBIs in July. The Rangers did not discuss giving Sosa his release, and he did not ask for it. He is not contemplating retirement, and he said he still wants to play again next season. "I feel great," Sosa said. "I feel young. If I didn't want to play, then I'd leave right now. I'll be around. It's better for me to be around and wait for the finish. Then we'll see what happens next year." Washington said Sosa could see time in the outfield against left-handed pitchers and could be used as a pinch-hitter. But the Rangers already are committed to Botts as the designated hitter, Nelson Cruz as the right fielder and Marlon Byrd in center. That leaves Sosa, Brad Wilkerson and Frank Catalanotto in left. "He'll hit some against left-handers," Washington said. "We'll get him time in the outfield, but it won't be on a regular basis." Botts was called up after hitting .320 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs and 78 RBIs over 102 games at Oklahoma. "The point is to bring him up here and give him regular playing time," Daniels said. "We need to see what he can do. He's shown what he can do at Triple-A." The Rangers signed Sosa in the offseason as a free agent after he sat out all of last season. He made the team in Spring Training and hit his 600th career home run on June 20 against the Cubs. He currently has 604 homers. But he is in a holding pattern. "The biggest thing is I feel great," Sosa said. "I know I can play a few more years. If I didn't feel I could do it, I'd go home. But I'm still here. I'll be around here whether you like it or not."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.