Notes: Sosa denies retirement report

Notes: Sosa denies retirement report

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sammy Sosa expressed shock on Tuesday when informed of a published report that quoted him as saying he planned to retire before the age of 40. Sosa denied those statements.

Sosa, who turned 36 on Nov. 12, apparently told the "El Caribe" newspaper during the Orioles' weekend visit to Yankee Stadium that he "won't make it past 40," and asked the reporter, "do you think I'm Julio Cesar Franco?" (Franco is Atlanta's 47-year-old first baseman.)

On Tuesday, Sosa said he was just joking with reporters and has set no timetable for retirement. Sosa, who is a potential free agent at the end of the season, said he wants to finish his career with the Orioles. The two sides have not engaged in serious contract talks.

"I don't know what they're talking about," he said. "It's surprised me when I got here. I guess you can't joke with nobody. [The reporter] was asking some questions, but I was talking to someone else. I said I don't want to play until 45 or 46, but I never said anything like that. It doesn't make any sense.

"Maybe they got me confused. But you guys know me? This is my life. This is the only thing that I know. I still have a lot of years left in my bat. [Early retirement] ain't going to happen."

Sosa would not say when he plans to retire.

"I am with a new team and I am very comfortable here and the numbers are going to be there," he said. "I have to just continue playing."

Sosa hit his first home run as an Oriole in the third inning of Tuesday night's game, a solo shot off Devil Rays' starter Scott Kazmir over the left-field wall.

Sosa appeared close to his first home run in the first inning, when he lined an opposite field shot toward the right-field foul pole. But first-base umpire Paul Emmel ruled that the ball landed in foul territory and bounced back, although television replays showed it actually hit the foul pole.

"Historically, he's been a slow starter," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "If that's the case, I don't think there's any concern there. I look at it as a positive when we're playing well and hitting well and he's not hitting and Melvin's [Mora] not hitting."

Letting em' know: In Sunday's 7-2 win over the Yankees, Larry Bigbie was called out at first base on a soft grounder to second. First-base umpire Mark Wegner ruled that Jason Giambi scooped Tony Womack's throw before Bigbie touched the bag.

Replays showed that Bigbie beat the play by a step and Mazzilli said Tuesday he probably has to remind umpires how deceptively fast Bigbie and David Newhan are. On several occasions last season, both appeared to beat out close ground balls only to be called out.

"I shouldn't have to remind them," Mazzilli said. "This happened last year and it happened, I heard, two years ago. It's the same thing with Newhan. There are a lot of plays that might be routine that are bang-bang because they're not expecting that. I would like to think that they are aware of it."

Tidbits: B.J. Surhoff's season debut on April 7 made him the eighth oldest player in Orioles' history at 40 years, 247 days. Rafael Palmeiro - 40 years, 223 days - is the 10th oldest. ... Sosa has played in 41 different ballparks during his career but had never played at Tropicana Field. ... Mazzilli said he is not considering moving Luis Matos up in the batting order. Matos is off to a hot start. ... Wednesday's game will be seen on ESPN2. ... Outfielder Val Majewski is recovering ahead of schedule from labrum surgery, according to head training Richie Bancells, but he is still expected to miss the season.

Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.