Sosa eyes return to big leagues, 600 home runs

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Sammy Sosa, 12 home runs shy of 600, said he wants to return to the big leagues in 2007 after taking a year off and contemplating retirement.

"I feel good physically, and after a year of resting we are optimistic about making a decision soon about returning to baseball," the Dominican slugger told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Sosa, 37, did not play in 2006 after rejecting a non-guaranteed offer of $500,000 from the Washington Nationals. But the outfielder, perhaps best known for his epic home run duel with Mark McGwire in 1998, said he is motivated to return.

"I still have a lot of passion for the game and I'm in shape. I want to get to 600 home runs before saying goodbye," said Sosa.

His agent, Adam Katz, has previously said Sosa probably was headed to retirement.

Sosa, whose last season with the Baltimore Orioles ended with a .221 batting average and 14 home runs, said several teams have shown interest but did not specify which ones.

The only player in major league history to have three seasons of at least 60 homers, Sosa testified before a congressional committee looking into steroids use by professional baseball players.