Outfielder Sammy Sosa on Saturday denied a feud with shortstop Miguel Tejada and said he hoped the Baltimore Orioles would bring him back next season.
From his home in Miami, Sosa called a Post reporter after reading that Orioles bullpen catcher Elrod Hendricks had suggested that Sosa had become jealous of Tejada and was perhaps the reason why Tejada appeared dejected at times this season.
"In the time that I was there I respected everyone," Sosa said. "I'm hurt that someone would say that. I ask myself why someone would say I had a problem with Miguel? I've always respected him. I'm not a person that likes to create controversy. For [Hendricks] to say that I was the reason Miguel had problems this year is wrong."
Hendricks said the two players had stopped speaking to each other and that it affected Tejada, who as a fellow Dominican idolized Sosa.
"Sometimes there were days we didn't speak but that doesn't mean we're not friends," Sosa said. "Sometimes in a long season you're just not in the mood to speak."
Tejada also has denied a feud with Sosa, who seemed most hurt that Hendricks had made such accusations.
"I always acted like a man and also treated [Hendricks] with respect," Sosa said. "I feel disappointed he'd say that because I always treated him well. That is someone who is taking advantage of a person who is down. People always want to kick you when you're down."
Despite his lackluster and injury-filled season, Sosa said he enjoyed his time with the Orioles and hoped there was a way for him to return.
"I want to tell the fans I loved playing there and that it's a beautiful city," Sosa said.
He attributed his struggles to injuries -- he missed significant time with foot problems -- and perhaps making the switch to the American League. For the first time since 1994 Sosa, who made $25 million this season, failed to hit at least 30 home runs and drive in at least 80 runs. Sosa hit just .221 with 14 home runs.
"I didn't have the season that I wanted to have because I changed leagues and had a lot of adjustments to make," Sosa said. "I know that's not an excuse."
It seems unlikely that the Orioles would bring back Sosa, but Baltimore has not ruled anything out. If Sosa did return, it would likely be with an incentive-laden contract and with no assurances of regular playing time.
No decisions on next year's roster are likely to be made until owner Peter Angelos determines the status of the front office. Both Executive Vice President Jim Beattie and Vice President Mike Flanagan are in the final years of their contracts.
"The only person who can decide whether they want me back is Peter Angelos," Sosa said. "The only one who will have the last word is Peter Angelos. That's a man I have a lot of respect for and I'm sorry that I couldn't hit the 40 home runs for Mr. Angelos. If he wants my services I have no problem coming back."