Rizzo touts Sosa's legacy

MESA, Ariz. -- In early December, Anthony Rizzo was at a restaurant in Florida and saw Sammy Sosa.

"I went over and said hello and introduced myself," Rizzo said. "I tried to campaign for him to come back. I said, 'We'd love to have you.' Nothing crazy.

"He was really, really nice, and it was really cool. He knew who I was. It was surprising. He still follows us. He's a baseball fan."

Rizzo even posted a photo of himself with Sosa on Twitter.

As far as Rizzo is concerned, Sosa was the slugger who helped revive baseball in 1998 with his home run race with Mark McGwire. That year, Sosa belted 66 home runs, led the National League with 158 RBIs and won the Most Valuable Player Award. Sosa would hit at least 60 home runs in two more seasons, but at the end of the 2004 season he left early from the ballpark during the last game. The Cubs then traded Sosa to the Orioles.

"I have no idea what happened," Rizzo said of Sosa's relationship with the Cubs. "To me, he and Big Mac, Mark McGwire, turned this whole baseball thing around with the home run chase and the excitement that was going on. I was a little kid growing up."

Rizzo was 9 years old in 1998, and part of a generation of kids enamored with Sosa's home run heroics.

Sosa has not been invited back to the Cubs Convention since 2004, and has not been involved with the team. With the arrival of Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant, there have been more questions about where Sosa fits with the Cubs.

"I've always said Sammy was a great player, regardless of everything else," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Wednesday. "At this point, there's nothing new to report."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.