Sammy Sosa, 12 home runs shy of 600, said he wants to return to the big leagues in 2007 after taking a year off and contemplating retirement.
"I feel good physically, and after a year of resting we are optimistic about making a decision soon about returning to baseball," the Dominican slugger told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The 37-year-old slugger did not play in 2006 after rejecting a non-guaranteed offer of $500,000 from the Washington Nationals. But the outfielder, perhaps best known for his epic home run duel with Mark McGwire in 1998, said he is motivated to return.
"I still have a lot of passion for the game and I'm in shape. I want to get to 600 home runs before saying goodbye," said Sosa.
The only player in major league history to have three seasons of at least 60 homers, Sosa testified before a congressional committee looking into steroids use by professional baseball players.
BONDS CONTRACT: Barry Bonds and the Giants have begun talks about a new contract that would keep the slugger in San Francisco for 2007.
"I have had preliminary discussions with the Giants and I believe those discussions will continue," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told The Associated Press on Friday night.
The 42-year-old Bonds filed for free agency last Saturday and it is still unclear whether he will play a 15th season for the Giants next year, when the club hosts the All-Star game at its waterfront ballpark.
Bonds, who had cleanup surgery in his troublesome left elbow after the season ended, has 734 home runs and is 22 away from breaking Aaron's career mark of 755.
His $90 million, five-year contract has expired and he doesn't want to take a pay cut.
LABOR DEAL: In New York, baseball owners unanimously approved their new labor contract on Friday during a telephone conference call.
The five-year deal, announced at the World Series last week, runs until December 2011.
"Unanimous approval by the clubs is yet another indicator of the peace and prosperity that exists in the industry," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
The executive board of the players' association has not yet decided on the union's approval process.
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