Baltimore The next big issue on the Sammy Sosa docket is whether Sosa should be invited to participate in the "Home Run Derby" the day before this year's All-Star Game, July 15 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Major League Baseball doesn't make invitations until a week or so before the game when the team rosters are made final, leaving plenty of time for debate.
Sosa usually is a no-brainer. He's participated in the contest five times, including the last four years.
But Sosa has only six home runs, including none since May 1, and carries the baggage of last week's bat-corking episode and the subsequent seven-game suspension.
Although Sosa hit 66 home runs in 1998, he wasn't in the derby that year because he was injured during the All-Star break and did not play.
Sosa has been in the derby finals three times, beating Ken Griffey Jr. in Atlanta in 2000, and losing to Luis Gonzalez in Seattle in 2001 and to Jason Giambi in Milwaukee last year.
This year, he's currently second among outfielders in fan balloting for the National League squad, and would seem to be a natural for this year's "Home Run Derby" because he's a former White Sox player who would be competing in his hometown.
Major League Baseball chooses four sluggers from each league. The players don't have to be among the top home run hitters to be selected, but it's rare that someone with so few home runs gets chosen.
Further clouding the issue is Barry Bonds' statement that he may pull out of the All-Star Game to be with his father, Bobby, during his battle with cancer. ESPN, which televises the Home Run Derby, probably would like both Bonds and Sosa to participate in the prime-time event for ratings purposes.