Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa isn't content anymore just endorsing branded products. He wants to become one.

The all-star outfielder signed an agreement yesterday with Ha-Lo Industries Inc., to market what it calls the "Sammy Sosa brand" through a variety of corporate sponsorships and promotions.

"I'm flattered to be considered a brand," said Sosa, who's in the spotlight with a NL-leading 53 home runs.

He has endorsement agreements with Fila Holding SpA, Kmart Corp., McDonald's Corp., video game software maker Electronic Arts Inc., photographic equipment company Fuji Photo Film and the Spanish language network Telemundo.

MOVES: The Cubs placed RHP Kevin Tapani on the 15-day disabled list with a sore lower back. The team recalled right-handed reliever Rodney Myers and optioned reliever Steve Rain to Class AAA Iowa. . . . The Padres purchased the contract of RHP Buddy Carlyle and recalled LHP Heath Murray from Class AAA Las Vegas. To make room on the roster, the Padres optioned IF Ed Giovanola and RHP Stan Spencer to Las Vegas. . . . The Marlins released C Jorge Fabregas and replaced him with Ramon Castro, who will make his major league debut today at Houston.

SURGERY: Astros OF Richard Hidalgo underwent a successful operation on his left knee.