January 3, 1965 |
Petare, Miranda State, Venezuela
|July 14, 1990, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 2003, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||261|
|Career highlights and awards|
In his career, Sojo filled a role as a utility infielder for the Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners, Pirates and, most notably, for the Yankees.
Not classically athletic, he was a natural shortstop in the minors, but took on an expanded role in emergency situations, initially and most commonly as a second baseman, and eventually as a third baseman, first baseman and left fielder as well.
Sojo had limited power and did not draw many walks, but he was a good contact hitter, especially for someone who made a habit of falling behind in the count during his minor league tenure. He did show an ability to put the ball in play with a low strikeout rate (one for 13 at-bats). Some of his great contributions came when going to the opposite field in hit and run situations and with infield hits. An avid bunter, he led the league in sacrificial hits in 1991 (19). Though not a threat as a base stealer, he was a competent base runner. In the field, Sojo had a good range and a good arm, showing quick hands and slick moves.
He signed with the Blue Jays on January 3, 1986. Called up late in the 1990 season, Sojo played 33 games for the Blue Jays. He promptly went 18-for-80 (.225) and was then traded to the California Angels with a player to be named later (Ken Rivers).
Sojo played 219 games for the Angels over two years. In 1991, he had 19 sacrifice hits, a career-high. He was traded back to the Blue Jays after the 1992 season.
Sojo played only 19 games in 1993, and was only 8 for 47 (.170), although he managed to collect six runs batted in. He earned his first of five World Series rings with the Blue Jays. On October 15, he was granted free agency.
Sojo hit .277 over 63 games in the strike-shortened 1994 season, while also hitting 6 home runs, ten a career-best. He was once again awarded a starting role in 1995, where he played in 102 games, his second-highest career total. He finished the season with 98 hits, and seven home runs, tying a career best. In the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees, he played in all five games, going 5-for-20 with 3 runs batted in. He continued his hot streak into the 1995 American League Championship Series, again going 5-for-20 as the Mariners lost to the Cleveland Indians. In 1996,
Sojo began the 1996 season with the Mariners, hitting just .211 (52 for 247) over 77 games before being claimed off of waivers by the New York Yankees on August 22, 1996.
Sojo began his Yankee career 11-for-40 (.275) while only striking out four times with one walk. After playing only 18 games with the Yankees, he was added to the postseason roster. He did not receive a plate appearance during the 1996 American League Division Series, but played as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. He did, however, play in the 1996 American League Championship Series, going 1 for 5 over 3 games. Despite his limited playing time in that postseason, he played in five of the six games of the 1996 World Series, going 3 for 5 (.600) with a double and a run batted in. Sojo earned his second World Series ring when the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves.
On January 9, 1997, Sojo re-signed with the Yankees. In 1997, Sojo began to see his playing time decrease. He played in only 77 games, hitting .377. Sojo's 25 runs batted in was his most as a Yankee. He did not play at all in the 1997 postseason as the Yankees were defeated by the Cleveland Indians. He was granted free agency on October 31, and again re-signed with the Yankees on November 12, 1997.
During the 1998 season, Sojo's playing time again decreased as he saw action in only 54 games, hitting .231. He had 34 hits and 14 runs batted in during the season, but did not play in the 1998 American League Division Series. He rejoined the team for the Championship Series, where he played in one game. He did not play in the World Series, but received a ring regardless.
In 1999, he played in just 49 games, less than the previous year, but hit .252 and again missed the Division Series. He re-joined the team for the 1999 American League Championship Series, where he had only one at-bat. He was not much of a force in the World Series that year either, with just one at-bat, but nevertheless received a World Series ring. He was released on November 10.
Sojo played in 34 games after being traded and hit .288, earning him a spot on the postseason roster. Playing in all five games of the American League Division Series, he was 3 for 16 with 5 RBIs and 3 hits. Playing in all six games of the 2000 American League Championship Series, he went 6 for 23. In Game 5 of the 2000 World Series, Sojo turned from a role player to a hero. With the score tied at two with two outs in the ninth inning, Sojo singled to center, driving in Jorge Posada to break the tie with Scott Brosius also scoring on the errant throw to home plate. The Yankees won their 26th World Series, their third consecutive, and fourth in the Joe Torre era. Sojo obtained his fifth World Series ring, (4 with New York and one with the Blue Jays). On November 7, Sojo was released again and re-signed exactly one month later on December 7. In 2001, he played in 39 games, collecting only 13 hits, but proved productive, as he drove in nine runs. After missing the American League Division Series, he received one at-bat in the American League Championship Series. He played in two of the seven games in that year's World Series, going 1 for 3 with a run batted in.
In 2002, Sojo failed to earn a spot on the Yankees roster, and retired from playing Major League Baseball. He then made his managerial debut with the Yankees Double A affiliate Norwich Navigators, and led the team to its first Eastern League Championship.
2003 was a unique year for Sojo. Having left the Navigators, Sojo was invited to the Yankees Old Timers Day. During the annual Old Timers' Game, he hit the game-winning home run off Ron Guidry. Later that season, the Yankees re-signed him as an active player, and he appeared in three games to conclude the season. He may be the only Yankee (or overall player) in history to play in an Old Timers Game and later a regular season game in the same year.
After his playing career, he served as the New York Yankees third base coach for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, after which he would serve as manager for the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees from 2006 to 2009, before being relieved on Feb. 2, 2010. Sojo also managed the Venezuelan national baseball team in the 2006, 2009, and the 2013 World Baseball Classic. On January 10, 2011, the New York Yankees announced that they were bringing Sojo back to manage the Tampa Yankees.
After a disappointing 2013 season for the Tampa Yankees Sojo was released again from the manager spot. He spent the 2014 season as the third base coach for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders before being fired. and starting in 2015 he served as the assistant field coordinator for the Yankees. In 2017 he was named manager of the Gulf Coast League Yankees East.