In 2009, former MLB slugger Sammy Sosa appeared at a music awards show sporting a much lighter complexion than he had just months earlier. The puzzlement grew so loud that Sosa went on Spanish-language television to deny that he was either sick or self-loathing, and that his new skin tone also wasn’t the result of steroid use.

“It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some,” Sosa said on Univision’s “Primer Impacto” program. “It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften [my skin], but has bleached me some. I’m not a racist, I live my life happily.

“What happened was that I had been using the cream for a long time and that, combined with the bright TV lights, made my face look whiter than it really is. I don’t think I look like Michael Jackson.”

We haven’t seen a whole lot of Sosa since then, but earlier this week he made a brief appearance on ESPN during its coverage of the home run derby. Let’s just say that the puzzlement only has grown louder.

Sosa didn’t reenter the spotlight last year even though the Cubs, for whom he played from 1992 to 2004, won their first World Series title since 1908. The team and player had a bitter split at the end of Sosa’s Cubs tenure, and the franchise reportedly is choosing to keep its distance after Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ and mentioned that he had hit more home runs than Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks in a February interview with a former team media relations staffer.

“Look, if I don’t see it again, I’ll send my drone over there and I’ll watch it from my house. I won’t have to move,” Sosa said when asked whether he would return to Wrigley Field if invited.