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No welcome for Sosa at Cubs Convention

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 9:56 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 10:12 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Fresh off his inclusion on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, former Cubs second baseman Todd Walker is set to make an appearance this weekend at the annual Cubs Convention.

Walker, who received no votes for the honor, spent three seasons of his 12-year career on the Cubs, including the memorable 2004 year when the team suffered a collective meltdown in the final week.

Another former player and first-time member on the Hall of Fame ballot didn't hear a peep from the Cubs.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green confirmed Sammy Sosa was not invited, though he gave no reason for the decision.

"Obviously Sammy was a great player and accomplished a great deal for us, and for this organization, no question," Green said, adding there were more than 70 players, former players and coaches whom fans will be able to see.

It's no surprise, of course. Sosa has been estranged from his former team since the end of the '04 season when he walked out of the clubhouse during the final game.

Whether he ever will return to the good graces of his former team is a question that probably won't be answered unless Sosa adequately addresses his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sosa, who hit 609 home runs, finished with only 12.5 percent of the votes on this year's ballot, suggesting voters believed he was simply a creation of modern chemistry.

"Even if we weren't inducted on our first time, we are still winners and there is always a next time," Sosa tweeted on his account, @TheRealMr609.

But Sosa is unlikely to make the long climb to 75 percent of the total votes necessary for induction. He mostly has remained out of the spotlight since his retirement, though he has been all over the Internet lately because of his Pininterest page, which drew notice because of the posed photos of Sosa wearing suits and a yellow sweater.

So how should the Cubs deal with Sosa, if at all?

Cubs players have said on occasion they believe Sosa someday should be reunited in some capacity with the organization.

"He carried this franchise a long time," former teammate Derrek Lee said in 2009. "I think (a Sammy Sosa Day) would be fitting. Obviously he has had the (steroid) allegations against him, but nothing has been proven. I think you have to do something for him. The guy was the franchise for a long time, put up Hall of Fame numbers and put fans in the seats."

Kerry Wood said last September that Sosa "did tremendous things for the city" during his career.

"We all know how he left and how it ended with him," Wood said. "But ultimately that one mistake he made at the end shouldn't determine his future here in Chicago."

Both Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Samardzija said at the end of last season they wouldn't object to having Sosa around.

"The young players would listen to him," Soriano said. "I'd have no problem with that."

Samardzija said Sosa's memorable ending shouldn't preclude a reunion of some sorts.

"Different things happen when you play, relationships (change) and things like that," Samardzija said. "But over time you start to look back on how things were for a long time, not just how they ended there in the last day or week or whatever.

"If someone has something to offer, and (wants to) help with an organization, obviously you want them around and you want to hear their opinions. If they don't have a good attitude, then obviously you don't want him around the organization. But I don't know Sammy at all. I met him on an elevator once in New York."

No physical evidence ever emerged as a smoking gun to prove Sosa took performance-enhancing drugs, though his low vote totals suggest most voters believe he indeed was juicing. In June 2009, the New York Times reported Sosa had tested positive for PEDS in 2003, the same year he was busted for using a corked bat in a game at Wrigley Field.

After the New York Times' revelation, Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg told WMVP-AM 1000 that Sosa didn't deserve to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

"Part of being in the Hall of Fame, they use the word integrity in describing a Hall of Famer, in the logo of the Hall of Fame, and I think there are going to be quite a few players who are not going to get in," Sandberg told the radio station.

Sandberg's words have proved prophetic so far, and Sosa remains on the outside looking in, both with the Hall of Fame and the organization he became synonymous with.

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