06/05/2003 12:12 AM ET
Other cork controversies
Graig Nettles, Yankees, Sept. 7, 1974: Nettles hit a broken-bat single in a game against Detroit. Six compressed rubber balls bounced out of the shattered bat and were collected by Tigers catcher Bill Freehan. The single was disallowed; Nettles was later fined an undisclosed amount.
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
Excuse: Nettles said he was unaware the bat had been doctored and that it was the first time he had used the bat after it was given to him by a fan. Nettles also said he picked the bat up off the bat rack by mistake, thinking it was his game bat.
Billy Hatcher, Astros, Sept. 1, 1987: The bat Hatcher was using shattered during a game against the Cubs and cork was immediately discovered. The hit was taken away from Hatcher, who insisted he was unaware that the bat was corked, and he was suspended for 10 days.
Excuse: Hatcher later said he was using pitcher Dave Smith's bat, not his own. Smith had used the corked model during pregame hitting sessions with other pitchers and did not keep it with the regulation bats. Hatcher, who used the same size bat as Smith, saw the bat in the bat bag and assumed it was legal lumber.
Albert Belle, Indians, July 15, 1994: During a game against the White Sox, Belle's bat was confiscated by umpire Dave Phillips after White Sox manager Gene Lamont informed Phillips of his suspicions that Belle's bat was corked. Phillips placed the bat in his locker for the remainder of the game, but during the game Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley climbed through a crawl space above the ceiling to get into the umpires room and replaced the suspect bat with a conventional one. The switch didn't work, as the bat Grimsley used had Paul Sorrento's name on it, not Belle's, and Phillips recognized this immediately. The bat in question was eventually turned over to the umpires and an X-ray revealed it had indeed been corked. Belle was suspended for seven games.
Excuse: Belle never attempted to explain the situation.
Chris Sabo, Reds, July 30, 1996: During a game against Houston, Sabo used a bat with first baseman Hal Morris' name on it. The bat shattered and revealed a hollow center and pieces of a substance that later proved to be pieces of rubber balls. Sabo was suspended for seven days without pay (roughly $70,000) and the Reds were fined $25,000.
Excuse: Sabo selected the bat from among three offered to him by a batboy after he had broken his bat, so actually it wasn't his bat.
Wilton Guerrero, Dodgers, June 1, 1997: Guerrero led off a game against St. Louis with a groundout, and in the process his bat shattered. When he made an effort to pick up the pieces of the bat instead of running to first base the umpires quickly discovered Guerrero's bat had been corked. Guerrero was ejected from the game. He was subsequently fined $1,000 and suspended for eight games.
Excuse: Guerrero said later that he had the corked bat for two or three months but had never used it until that night.
Sammy Sosa, Cubs, June 3, 2003: Sosa's bat shattered when he hit a grounder to second in the first inning of Chicago's game against Tampa Bay Tuesday night. Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall picked up the bat and gave it to umpire Tim McClelland, who discovered cork in the barrel. Sosa was ejected from the game is appealing an eight-game suspension.
Excuse: Sosa says the corked bat was only for batting practice and that he grabbed it by accident.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.