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Sammy's sabbatical

National | If Sammy Sosa can smile about this baseball season, that may be all he can do.

Issue: "How to fix baseball," June 21, 2003

If Sammy Sosa can smile about this baseball season, that may be all he can do. That's because after hitting his 500th home run early in the season, the Cubs slugger's life has been threatened by a high fastball and his character impugned by a corked bat. But the Chicago outfielder remains hopeful as ever. "I believe the world's not ended yet. I'm still here," he said, smiling. "I have to be happy with myself that I know how to deal with everything. I'm a tough man. I've got a strong mind, and nobody can touch that." But will he ever recover fully on the field? An early-season fastball caught him in the left temple. The pitch shattered his helmet and seemed to make Mr. Sosa skittish at the plate. Then a toenail problem sidelined him for 17 games, leaving him with just one home run in May.

And then there was the corked bat. When Mr. Sosa's bat shattered in the first inning of a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on June 3. Mr. Sosa said he just used the illegal bat during batting practices to put on a show. Major-league baseball suspended him eight games (last week's appeal knocked the sentence down to seven)-and the time off might be best for him. Maybe Slammin' Sammy will find his power stroke again.

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