Notes: Sosa targets Tuesday for return

Notes: Sosa aims to return Tuesday

BALTIMORE -- If it were up to Sammy Sosa -- and it isn't, because the Orioles have been very cautious with his infected left foot -- he would be in the lineup Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

Sosa addressed the media Friday for the first time since being sidelined with a staph infection on the bottom of the left foot. Sosa is nearing full health and took batting practice in the cages at Camden Yards before the Orioles' Interleague game with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sosa has been cleared to resume baseball activities by team physician Dr. Andrew Cosgarea after the doctor determined the dangerous infection had subsided. Club officials have not said when they plan to activate Sosa from the DL.

"I feel great," he said. "I am happy to be back here. I am not dead. I am alive."

Sosa had been mysteriously absent from the Orioles' clubhouse in the days following the injury and rejected a reporter after he left Camden Yards on Thursday. After a batting practice session early Friday afternoon, he walked into the clubhouse wearing a brace on his left foot, but walking normally. He greeted teammates with his customary warm smile and then motioned reporters over.

He appeared bothered by the perception that he used the injury to back out of returning to Chicago for the first time since being traded from the Cubs in February.

"No one more than me wants to play in Chicago," Sosa said. "I just wanted to make that clear. No offense to nobody, but that's something that went over the line. Everybody that knows me knows that I like to play. I am never going to hide, from nobody, to play this game."

Health wise, Sosa said he is nearly 100 percent and would like to be back in the lineup Tuesday. He said he began feeling discomfort a few days before he was scratched from the lineup on May 6. Doctors found an abscess and eventually discovered the staph infection.

"It came to the time where it was something where I couldn't deal with the pain no more," he said. "I was very concerned. The doctor was telling me something that was pretty serious. We can sit down today and laugh probably because I am much better, but I had a serious infection."

Sosa was eligible to be activated from the DL on Friday, but said it will take him a few more days to round into baseball shape.

"I am a pretty strong guy, and I know what I have to do," he said. "I believe it's probably going to be a couple of days. I am a gamer. I am a fighter."

When told Sosa said he will be ready Tuesday, manager Lee Mazzilli was not so sure.

"Well, that's what he said," Mazzilli said. "We will have to see. But it's good to see Sammy back on his foot. He came into my office and he looked great."

Matos dealing: Luis Matos (fractured right ring finger) might be able to resume baseball activities in three weeks, but perhaps his biggest obstacle is mentally overcoming the fear of injury. The center fielder is spending his fourth stint on the DL in the past five years.

   Luis Matos  /   CF
Born: 10/30/78
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

On May 10, Matos was hit by a Jesse Crain pitch while trying to bunt in the Orioles' loss to Minnesota. The ball not only fractured Matos' right ring finger, but it also tore the skin from the bone. Matos had the skin reattached and he will not require a skin graft.

Matos expressed relief.

"When I took off my batting glove, I thought it was season-ending," he said. "I saw my finger and it was pretty ugly. That's why I was so upset that night. When I figured out the skin was healing good, that was good for me."

According to head trainer Richie Bancells, a skin graft would have cost Matos three months. He missed the final two months of last season with a fractured right leg. He has also missed time with a broken hamate bone and dislocated shoulder.

"When I saw my finger. I said, 'Oh my God, this is happening again. That's it for this year,'" Matos said. "That's the main thing. I am happy I am going to be back playing with the team, and the team is playing good. I've been hurt a lot. I know how to get it back. I know how to get back rhythm and everything."

JB's coming: For long relief help, the Orioles have purchased the contract of right-hander James Baldwin from Triple-A Ottawa and sent outfielder Keith Reed back to the Lynx.

Baldwin, 33, was 3-2 with a 4.60 ERA for Ottawa in eight starts. He signed a Minor League contract in the offseason. His best season was 2000 for the Chicago White Sox when he finished 14-7 and made the American League All-Star team.

Draft stuff: The Orioles own the 13th pick in the First-Year Player Draft, which begins June 7. And they also received the 49th pick as compensation for losing Rice University pitcher Wade Townsend, last year's first-round pick, who did not sign and returned to school.

Because the Orioles did not sign any Type A or B free agents, they did not lose any draft picks. They also have the 63rd, 95th and the 125th picks in the first four rounds.

Surhoff gets day off: Outfielder B.J. Surhoff was not in the lineup Friday because of stiffness in his lower back. Surhoff left Wednesday's game in the ninth inning and did not play in Thursday's loss to Kansas City.

Jeff Fiorentino got the nod in center field, Jay Gibbons started in right and Larry Bigbie (hamstring) started for the second consecutive game.

Farm report: Bernie Castro and Ed Rogers each had two hits and John Maine allowed one earned run in seven innings in Triple-A Ottawa's 5-2 over Charlotte on Thursday. In the third game of his rehabilitation assignment, Frank Thomas was 1-for-4 with a single for the Knights. Maine struck out eight, walked one and lowered his ERA to 3.83.

Coming up: The Orioles take on the Phillies in the second of a three-game series at Camden Yards on Saturday. Left-hander Erik Bedard (4-1, 2.35) takes on right-hander Vicente Padilla (1-4, 7.52).

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