sammy sosa kissWith yesterday’s announcement that Manny Ramirez would be returning to the Chicago Cubs’ organization as a hitting consultant, the conversation naturally turned to the guy who was actually a long-time star for the Cubs, but who hasn’t yet been welcomed back: Sammy Sosa.

In Mesa, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was asked specifically about Sosa joining the organization at some point, and, while he mostly deferred, he did say that he was open to it.

“That one’s being handled in other circles,” Epstein told reporters of any decision about a Sosa return (ESPN, CSN, Tribune). “But assuming things get worked out, certainly be open to having him around in some capacity and working with our young guys. I don’t know him personally but I’m sure he has some things to offer.”

The other circles to which Epstein refers is presumably at an ownership level, as Tom Ricketts has consistently avoided making any specific commitments with respect to Sosa, instead saying only certain things need to happen before there can be a formal resumption of a relationship. Folks have speculated about what those things might be – an apology to the organization for various transgressions? to former teammates? to fans or the organization for alleged PED use? – but no details have been given. I’m sure there are reasons, and I’m sure there are reasons we don’t know the reasons.

So, Sosa remains an awkward part of Cubs history, and a ghost in its present.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: while I don’t know who’s right or wrong, or what’s really going on behind the scenes, I find it deeply frustrating that the sides can’t work this out and get Sosa back into the fold. As Epstein’s comments intimate, there could be real value – tangible, actual value! – in having Sosa back as a formal part of the organization, perhaps working with young, Latin players who idolize him.