Rangers tell Sosa his time will be cut for younger players

CLEVELAND -- Sammy Sosa's climb up the home run chart is
about to slow down.

Sosa was told in a long, closed-door meeting Wednesday that his
playing time will be cut, one day after the Texas Rangers traded away two
other established stars.

"They have young kids they want to see," Sosa said. "Once in
a while, I'll be playing. I don't have a problem with it."

"I feel great. If I didn't want to play, I'd leave right now. I
know I have a couple years [left]. I'll stick around here until the
season is over and then whatever happens, happens."

Sosa leads the last-place Rangers with 16 homers and 70 RBIs,
but has seen his average drop to .239 after reaching a season-high
.278 on May 11. He hit his 600th career homer June 20 and currently
has 604.

The 38-year-old Sosa is batting only .182 (6-for-33) in 10 games
since July 16. He was not in the starting lineup Wednesday despite
having a career average of .385 (5-for-13) with three homers and
five RBIs against Cleveland's Paul Byrd.

"We'll give Sammy at-bats here and there and when someone needs
a rest," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Sammy is a pro, a guy
who has proven a lot of people wrong this year."

Slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira went to Atlanta and closer
Eric Gagne moved to Boston in deals Tuesday that brought
catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, left-hander
Kason Gabbard and six minor leaguers.

First-year manager Ron Washington told Sosa about that team's
new direction.

"It was the toughest thing I've ever had to do," Washington
said. "He's a Hall of Famer and we're asking him to take a lesser

Sosa said he understands the Rangers' desire to develop younger
players, but does not feel he is ready to retire for a second time.
He sat out the entire 2006 season before being invited to the
Rangers' spring training camp and showing enough that Texas signed
him to a one-year contract.

Switch-hitter Jason Botts was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on
Wednesday and was the designated hitter, batting cleanup in Sosa's
spot. Botts batted .320 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs in the minors.

"Jason will get the majority of the at-bats," Daniels said.
"The point of bringing him up is to give him regular playing time.
He has proven what he can prove at Triple-A."

Daniels said Sosa has been a solid player during a disappointing
season that has seen the Rangers fall to last place in the AL West,
15 1/2 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Angels.

For more than a decade, Sosa was one of the most feared sluggers
in history with the Chicago Cubs, surpassing 35 homers and 100 RBIs
for nine consecutive seasons from 1995-2003.

Texas also recalled right-hander Wes Littleton from Triple-A
Oklahoma, and the Rangers optioned right-hander Scott Feldman and
third baseman Travis Metcalf to Oklahoma. Infielder Desi Relaford
was sent outright to the minors.