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Rangers surprised to hear Sosa news

Rangers surprised by Sosa news

ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz figuratively collided with Sammy Sosa a couple of years ago.

Sosa was enjoying a nice comeback season with the Rangers in 2007 after sitting out all of the prior season when he suddenly got knocked aside by Cruz. The Rangers, out of the race at the end of July, decided to call up Cruz from Triple-A Oklahoma and significantly reduce Sosa's playing time.

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Sammy Sosa

It might have been a tough situation for two guys from the Dominican Republic, but Cruz said, "We were friends. That's all. He always gave me good advice, and I'll always thank him for that."

Sosa hasn't played since 2007 -- officially retiring earlier this year -- but he is making headlines again. According to The New York Times, Sosa is one of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

"I was shocked," Cruz said. "I don't know what to say. To me he's still a great player. I always respect the way he plays hard and how he respects the game."

Cruz said Sosa remains a big hero back in the Dominican Republic and the news will hit there hard. Sosa has long denied that he used performance-enhancing drugs and was expecting to be elected to the Hall of Fame when he became eligible in 2013.

"This is going to be a big thing," Cruz said. "He's one of the greatest players in the Dominican. Everybody looks at him that way. But everybody will handle it in different ways. We all have a job to do, we can't focus on other stuff."

Sosa hit .252 with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs for the Rangers in 2007. One of those home runs was the 600th of his career. He finished with 609, sixth most in Major League history.

Like Cruz, manager Ron Washington was surprised when he heard about Sosa. There are reports that 104 players tested positive in 2003, but only two names have surfaced so far: Sosa and Alex Rodriguez. Both once played for the Rangers.

"I've always looked at Sammy as someone who earned all he got because of all the hard work he put in," Washington said. "He was rewarded for what he accomplished. I think the fans here in Texas know what Sammy was about. He did a great job while he was here. The guy was an RBI machine. I don't think steroids have anything to do with that."

Still, the Rangers, like most other people, weren't thrilled to see performance-enhancing drugs once again becoming a topic of discussion, no matter who is involved.

"It's not good," club president Nolan Ryan said. "We need to get this behind us. At some point I think we will, but what it will take, I don't know. Is that list ever going to come out? If it is, instead of filtering out one name at a time, I'd rather it all come out at once and move on."

Said Washington, "If they have 101 names left, I guess they'll be trickling them out for the next 25 years."

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

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