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Sosa Gets Special Treatment

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  • Sosa Gets Special Treatment

    MESA, Ariz. -- While fielding complaints that Dick Allen was receiving preferential treatment in his first season with the White Sox in 1972, manager Chuck Tanner said he had 25 rules for 25 players. Tanner wasn't the first manager to give his star more leeway than the rest of the players, and he certainly won't be the last.

    But Major League Baseball's crackdown on clubhouse access for non-baseball personnel could be the great equalizer, forcing superstars to give up perks they once took for granted, and all because of the ongoing steroids investigation surrounding Barry Bonds' trainer.

    Cubs manager Dusty Baker weighed in on the clubhouse access issue Sunday morning at Fitch Park, though he couldn't shed any light on whether Sammy Sosa's assistant will be allowed to remain with the team.

    While the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have said they'd comply with the edict from the commissioner's office to restrict access of non-baseball personnel, the Cubs are apparently willing to fight MLB to placate their star right fielder.

    Asked Sunday if Sosa's assistant, Julian Martinez, would be allowed to remain in the clubhouse in spite of the edict, manager Dusty Baker replied: "C'mon dude. Shoot, he was here before I got here. The rules are the rules, [and] we're not clear of the rules, first. It's going to affect a lot of people in Julian's position. If the commissioner has a mandate or edict, you don't have a choice."

    Martinez continues to dress in the Cubs' clubhouse and participate during spring practice with Sosa and other Cubs players. MLB security will hold its annual spring training meeting with Cubs players Monday morning at Fitch, where the touchy subject is certain to be discussed.

    Cubs player representative Mark Prior said last week "there shouldn't be anyone in the locker room besides maybe close family—dad and brothers—and the media."

    Sosa is the only Cub with an assistant, a perk granted by management for at least the last four seasons. He plans to fight the edict, and the Cubs appear willing to try to make Martinez a batting practice pitcher to get around the rule and keep Martinez and Sosa together.

    Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations, was unavailable for comment Sunday.

    It's a sensitive issue that Cubs management would like to see go away. They don't want to upset Sosa, especially with so much at stake this season, and believe the media are making a mountain out of a molehill. But the memo to major-league clubs from Commissioner Bud Selig clearly states "there will be absolutely no exceptions to these regulations, and major-league clubs will be held responsible if they are not enforced."

    The rule states that any "friends, associates, agents, attorneys, personal trainers, etc. may not be granted access to restricted areas," including the playing field, clubhouse, dugouts and trainers' room.

    The Yankees were in apparent violation of the rule on Saturday when a friend of Alex Rodriguez was allowed into a restricted area, one day after general manager Brian Cashman told the players the team would comply with the edict. Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Bonds and Sosa are among the major-league stars whose personal trainers or friends have been granted special access in the past.

    While most Cubs players are fond of the mild-mannered Martinez, his likability is not the issue. The issue is whether MLB will allow one rule for 29 teams and a separate rule for the Cubs.

    "Julian is a good guy, a funny guy," one player said. "We like him, and we'd miss him if he wasn't around. But our friends probably won't be allowed in [the clubhouse] anymore, so I don't see any way around it."

    Cubs management is in a no-win situation. If they successfully fight the edict and Martinez is allowed total access, it looks as though they're coddling Sosa. If they don't fight for Sosa and Martinez is not allowed on the field or in the clubhouse, it could have a negative affect on the demeanor of one of their key players.

    "We'll see how the fight goes," Baker said.

    Copyright © 2004, The Chicago Tribune
    *Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq

  • #2
    To paraphrase someone:

    Sosa is a bitch.

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy