Sammy Sosa's homer Saturday was his 35th of the year, marking the 10th time he's hit that many in a season. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa was not in the lineup for the Chicago Cubs' season finale on Sunday and apparently left Wrigley Field early, much to manager Dusty Baker's displeasure.
"I didn't know he was going to leave early," Baker said after the game.
Before the game, Baker said Sosa didn't start because he was "ailing." The outfielder has been nagged by injuries to his hip and his back this season.
Sosa didn't arrive in the clubhouse until 12:10 p.m. CT for the 1:20 p.m. game, and would not
talk with reporters.
Sosa's homer Saturday was his 35th of the season, and it marks the 10th time he's hit that many in a season. Babe Ruth is the career leader for most seasons with 35 or more homers with 12, and Hank Aaron did so 11 times. Sosa joins Mike Schmidt, Barry Bonds, Jimmie Foxx, Rafael Palmeiro and Willie Mays with 10 seasons.
Sosa's 80 RBIs are the fewest for a player with 35 home runs. Bonds hit 37 homers and 81 RBIs in 1994 with San Francisco in a strike-shortened year. The fewest RBIs for a 35-home run hitter in a full season was 83 by both Frank Robinson and Wally Post in 1956. Robinson hit 38 homers that season and Post hit 36. Both played for the Reds.
Next season is Sosa's last on his contract with the Cubs. Baker was asked before the game if he wants the right fielder back.
"Yeah, I want him back, especially if he goes to work this winter and gets in tip-top, tip-top shape mentally and physically," Baker said. "It's a big year for him next year. I assume he'll have a very good year, especially since it's his option year."
Nomar Garciaparra / SS
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Long-term lease: Sunday might be Nomar Garciaparra's last game with the Cubs. The soon-to-be free agent shortstop, acquired July 31, said he'll sit down with his family after the season and decide what he wants to do.
"My Cub experience has been unbelievable," Garciaparra said Sunday. "I can't thank my teammates enough. This has been new for me, coming over to a new team. To be welcomed the way they have has made the transition easy. That says a lot about my teammates and the organization as well. They've had open arms and been gracious and made the transition easy."
Would he consider coming back?
"This is definitely a place I'd seriously consider," Garciaparra said. "I love Wrigley, I love the city, I love the fans. The fans have been great and opened their arms as much as my teammates. Do I know what's going to happen or what's going on? That I can't foresee. I'm going to be experiencing something that will be new for me as well."
Garciaparra said he'll sit down with his family and advisors.
"There will be a time when the dust settles and I'll sit down with the people I turn to who help me make those decisions and we'll discuss what we are looking for, what's going into the factor. I can't tell you exactly what those things will be.
"I also don't know who will want me. Free agency is a new thing for me," he said. "I don't know who's out there, who's interested or any of that."
He'll factor in location, a winning organization, things like that.
"All those things will be taken into consideration so I can continue to keep a smile on my face," he said.
Garciaparra is headed home while his former team, the Boston Red Sox, are in the playoffs.
"I wish my teammates the best because I still have friends over there," he said. "Unfortunately, I'm not in the playoffs with this team. I wanted to go to the playoffs and win the World Series with these guys."
Memories: WGN Radio broadcaster Ron Santo said watching the current Cubs has brought back memories of the 1969 team that faltered in September.
"There's no doubt in my mind this is a very talented team," Santo said of the current Cubs. "It's sad to end the way it did. The one thing I can look ahead to is that we'll be there every year. It's no longer 'Lovable Losers.' We should get 85 to 100 wins every year."
Looking ahead: Expect more emphasis on fundamentals in 2005, starting in Spring Training. Baker said he'll bring Vince Coleman back to help with baserunning.
"We'll do what we've been doing and with more effort," Baker said. "Sometimes in Spring Training, you're just going through things. We have to spend more time with it and emphasize it more and make it more prevalent in the front of your brain. Sometimes when you've been doing things for so long, you take it that you know how to do these things."
The Cubs did hit 230-plus homers but failed to come through with clutch hits on several instances. Can that be fixed?
"If I knew that, it wouldn't keep happening," Baker said. "Sometimes you've got the wrong guy at the plate. Sometimes it's a matter of wanting to do it so badly you don't get a good pitch to hit. Sometimes it's a matter of being calm and cool and figuring out what you need."
Corey Patterson / CF
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
Projects: Corey Patterson may be getting a call from leadoff specialist Brett Butler this offseason.
"Corey can be an excellent leadoff hitter," Baker said. "It's a matter of No. 1, cutting down on strikeouts. It's knowing when to bunt, when not to bunt. He's still in the process of learning it. We're still in the process of teaching him."
Baker doesn't want Patterson to lose his aggressive approach.
"He's just swinging at balls out of the strike zone," Baker said. "You don't have much time to make up your mind whether a ball is a strike, but you have to slow the game down. He'll learn. He can learn how to do it.
"I've seen some great ballplayers come in and their first couple years have done a whole lot worse than Corey," he said. "Corey's talented. You've seen flashes of it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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