Baker, Wood respond to Sosa

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker and some of his players are disputing some comments Sammy Sosa made when he reported to the Baltimore Orioles' camp.

At a news conference Wednesday, Sosa was asked about comments by Cubs players who said he and the team were better off following the
Feb. 2 trade. Sosa apparently interpreted that as the Cubs saying
they didn't need him anymore.

"They lie," Sosa was quoted as saying in several newspapers.

The Cubs insisted Thursday that's not what they said or meant.

"Did I say that?" asked Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood. "I never did say it, so apparently somebody else lies. Not him. I'm not talking about him. I never said we were better without Sammy. I said I think both teams got better in the offseason not because we got rid
of Sammy but because of some other moves we made. I don't have to justify myself. The comments I made, none of them were directed at Sammy. I did nothing but wish Sammy the best of luck, and I'll
continue to wish Sammy the best of luck."

Sosa, who played for the Cubs from 1992-2004, left the final game of last season without permission less than 15 minutes after the first pitch. He later criticized Baker, saying he was tired of the Cubs manager blaming him for the team's failure to make the playoffs.

Sosa said Wednesday that if he had known his departure would cause such controversy, he wouldn't have done it. He said Baker had given him the final day off.

That's not how Baker saw things Thursday.

"Actually, the trainer came in the night before and told me he (Sosa) wanted off," Baker said. "He said he wanted off. I said,
'Fine, if that's how you want it, if you don't want to play, then
I'll play (rookie Jason) Dubois. I didn't give him the day off. He
asked for it. Again, it's a matter of who you believe."

Sosa praised Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli and told reporters Mazzilli was the first manager to be honest with him.

"He said the same thing about me when I first got here, and when Baylor first got here," said Baker, referring to Don Baylor,
who managed Sosa from 2000-2002 and with whom Sosa sparred in
Baylor's first season.

Asked if he wished the controversy would go away, Baker replied: "Yeah, sure, because Sammy's gone. At least you should be able to tell the truth about things."