Sosa wins spot on Rangers roster

Sosa wins spot on Rangers roster

TUCSON, Ariz. -- First, Sammy Sosa smiled mischieviously as he started to get dressed in the visiting clubhouse at Tucson Electric Park.

Then he put his hands together and looked angelically toward heaven.

"Thank you, Lord," he giggled. "I made the team!"

Yes, what everybody has known since the beginning of Spring Training is now official.

Sammy Sosa, a non-roster invitee to training camp, is being added to the 40-man roster and will be on the Opening Day roster, general manager Jon Daniels said Thursday.

"I made the team!" said Sosa, standing in the visiting clubhouse and doing his best impression of an overexcited rookie getting his first shot at the Major Leagues. "I love it!"

Daniels and the Rangers made that decision even before Sosa hit his third home run of the spring, a monster shot off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Edgar Gonzalez at Tucson Electric Park on Thursday.

"Sammy will be on the team," Daniels said. "He's had quality at-bats, the bat speed is there. He's running well. He is doing everything we've asked of him. I know it's Spring Training, but there is not much more that he can show us. If he brings what he's shown in Spring Training to the regular season, we'll be in good shape."

Sosa, according to the Minor League contract he agreed to at the end of January, had to be added to the 40-man roster by Thursday or he could have become a free agent. By being added to the Major League roster, he is guaranteed a base salary of $500,000. He can earn another $2.2 million in incentives based on number of at-bats.

"The reason I took a chance to come here was I knew I could still compete," Sosa said. "I knew I had to fight for a spot, and what happened has made me proud because a lot of people probably didn't think I could do it."

Sosa was 1-for-3 on Thursday and is now 14-for-31 (.452) with three home runs and seven RBIs in 10 Cactus League games. He has hit safely in all 10 games. He struck out twice Thursday, giving him eight in 31 at-bats, but the home run was a blast.

Batting against Gonzalez while leading off the fourth inning, Sosa turned on a 1-0 pitch and hit it high and deep over both the left-field fence and the Diamondbacks bullpen. The ball, defying a stiff wind blowing in from left field, hit off a sidewalk and bounced over a 10-foot fence at the far edge of the park.

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"He killed that ball, no question," Rangers bench coach Art Howe said.

"My whole concern is making contact," Sosa said. "If I make contact, something is going to happen."

Sosa has 588 career Major League home runs but hasn't hit one in a regular-season game since Aug. 4, 2005, when he was playing with the Baltimore Orioles. His last Major League game was Aug. 25, 2005, before sitting out all of last season.

"I still have a ways to go," Sosa said. "Just because I made the team doesn't mean I have to slow down. Now we need to win some games and come into the season with the attitude we have on this team. We have a good group; now everybody has to do the job, from the manager and coaches on down. Everybody has to contribute, that's how you win games."

With that, Sosa finished dressing and got ready to make the 2 1/2-hour drive back to Phoenix. He was told that A.J. Pierzynski and other White Sox players spent $1,500 to rent a helicopter and avoid that drive the other day.

Sosa smiled.

"When you're trying to make the team, you don't do that stuff," he said.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.