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AROUND THE CACTUS LEAGUE

Friday, February 25, 2005; Page D04

The hard feelings between Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs are still alive. Cubs Manager Dusty Baker and some players disputed some comments Sosa made Wednesday when he reported to the Baltimore Orioles' camp.

Sosa was asked Wednesday about comments from Cubs players who recently said both sides are better off with the trade. Sosa apparently interpreted that as the Cubs saying they didn't need him. "They lie," Sosa was quoted as saying in several newspapers. The Cubs insisted yesterday that's not what they said or meant. "Did I say that?" asked pitcher Kerry Wood. "I never did say it, so apparently somebody else lies. . . . I never said we were better without Sammy. I said I think both teams got better in the offseason not because we got rid of Sammy but because of some other moves we made."

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Sosa left the final game of last season without permission less than 15 minutes after the first pitch. He said Wednesday that Baker had given him the final day off.

"Actually, the trainer came in the night before and told me [Sosa] wanted off," Baker said. "I said, 'Fine, if that's how you want it, if you don't want to play, then I'll play [rookie Jason] Dubois.' I didn't give him the day off."

-- From News Services


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