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Nationals Notebook

Bowden Talks With Cubs About Sosa

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2004; Page D05

ANAHEIM, Calif., Dec. 12 -- The Washington Nationals approached the Chicago Cubs about trading for power-hitting outfielder Sammy Sosa, three National League sources said Sunday. But lest any Nationals fans get worked up about the possibility of Sosa playing at RFK Stadium, the discussions appear to be merely an indication of Washington General Manager Jim Bowden's attitude, which some consider creative and others say is overzealous.

The Cubs are willing to unload Sosa, who has been linked heavily to the New York Mets. Complicating a deal is his contract, which will pay him $18 million next season and, if he's traded, kicks in another $18 million for 2006 -- not a fit for Washington's $50 million budget.

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The reason Bowden even asked about a deal is because the Cubs are willing to pick up a significant portion of Sosa's contract. Washington would want the Cubs to pick up nearly all of it. Translation: "Don't bet on it," one source said.

"Whatever dollars we have to spend, it's going to starting pitching," Bowden said. "We have talked to almost every club and . . . as I always do, I always listen and I always am flexible and have interest in concepts and ideas."

Another indication of Bowden's willingness to listen: He met Sunday with Oakland General Manager Billy Beane about one of the A's starting pitchers, another virtual impossibility for Washington.

Cordero to Sign

The Nationals are expected to sign first baseman Wil Cordero to a one-year contract Monday. Cordero played just 27 games with Florida last season, hitting .197. He spent much of the season on the disabled list after undergoing knee surgery.

Cordero was charged with spousal abuse in 1997 while with Boston, but is remarried. Nationals Manager Frank Robinson called him a leader during a previous stint with the franchise in Montreal in 2002 and '03. He hit .278 with 16 homers and 71 RBI in 2003, and will be used as a pinch hitter and fill-in player.

Robinson Talks Steroids

Robinson, a Hall of Famer whose 586 career homers place him fifth on the all-time list, said he doesn't know enough about steroids to comment on their potential effect on today's players. But in an interview, he strongly advocated a policy much tougher than that in place in the minor leagues: a 15-game unpaid suspension for a first offense, increasing to 30 games for the next offense, 60 for the next and a year for a fourth.

"Come on, please," he said. "Make your punishment sting. Let's go to something strong. First time, a year. Second time, maybe two or three years. Third time, you're done. See you later." . . .

Pitcher Zach Day and outfielder Terrmel Sledge will be on hand at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the ESPN Zone in downtown Washington to unveil the team's uniforms. . . . Bowden announced Friday that he had hired Bob Boone as an assistant to the general manager, but Boone said Sunday he had to sleep on it that night. "And I didn't sleep much," he said. Ultimately, he said he left his job as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies because "I wanted to be closer to the fire."

The former manager in Kansas City and Cincinnati said he doesn't want to be seen as a threat to Robinson's job.

"I want Frank to do well, because that means we'll be doing well," Boone said. "I can't deny what I am: a guy who's managed and who likes managing. But to become a manager, someone needs to choose you."

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