Sammy Sosa begins training for return to big leagues

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Sammy Sosa began
training Thursday in hopes of returning to the major leagues.

"I feel like I did when I was a rookie," Sosa told The Associated Press. "I have a lot of spirit and a desire to return. I think I can play three or four more years in the form I am now."

Sosa hit the ball out of the park 15 times while training at a field in San Pedro de Macoris that is operated by the Japanese league's Hiroshima Carp.

The 38-year-old slugger said he had received calls from teams interested in signing him but declined to reveal their names.

He has not played since his 2005 season with the Baltimore Orioles, when he hit .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI.

Sosa feels baseball has since turned its back on him, calling it a "blow" to not have received offers to come back during this year's season.

The only team that has publicly expressed interest in the Dominican's services was the Washington Nationals, who offered a non-guaranteed $500,000 contract that Sosa rejected.

"I want the chance and I believe one is going to appear. This time I will accept an offer like the one with the Nationals because I want to get back to the majors," he said.

Sosa, who won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1998, played 17 seasons with the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and Cubs and finally with Baltimore.

A year away from the game wouldn't shake him, he said.

"Ted Williams went to war and lost a couple years. More recently, Barry Bonds stayed away for more than a year and came back, and the same happened with Frank Thomas because of injuries," he said.