February 24, 2006
Sheffield's option hot topic again
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Gary Sheffield vented his frustration Friday, then left Legends Field upbeat about his future with the New York Yankees.
Sheffield was angry over television reports about a meeting earlier this week during which New York general manager Brian Cashman said the team would likely pick up his $13 million option for next season.
"The way it looked on TV, it made me look like I was 2 years old," Sheffield said, "like I can't go into a room, be told something and then tell you what I was told. If I come out of the room positive, are they playing games with me or something? You're supposed to be positive if your general manager comes out and says there's a possibility they'll pick up your option. They don't see no reason not to. I produced for two years. What else do you want me to do?"
Sheffield talked reporters after the Yankees' worked out. He also address the matter again after meeting with Cashman, who sought out the right fielder after learning of his comments.
"It was best to have a sit-down and talk to each other face-to-face," Cashman said, "make sure we understand each other. I'm glad we did. We had a good conversation, and I walked out of that feeling good, like I did the last time. It was something that was important to have. Hopefully, this is all behind us and we can go forward. There will be a time and a place for the option."
Sheffield is entering the final season of a $39 million, three-year contract, a deal that includes a $13 million club option for 2007.
"I've never had an organization come to me and say, `Eventually, we're going to take care of you,"' Sheffield said. "I've never had anyone say, `I'm going to take care of you.' Why shouldn't I be happy? That's a first for me in 17 years."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner left the matter in "Cashman's hands."
Sheffield, during his initial media session, said he would move on if things didn't work out.
"I don't want anybody to take my kindness as a weakness," Sheffield said. "Like I said before, this is where I want to be, but don't test me. It never was a done deal. It was a possibility. I'm happy about that. But there's two sides to that. On one side, I trust you, but don't play me. I don't care who it is, if it's the Boss, if it's him, don't play me. There are plenty of other teams out there that want my services ... that's the bottom line."
Sheffield has been at times uneasy in the past during the final seasons of contracts.
"This is how it happened in L.A.," he said "They wanted to sign me to an extension. I didn't go to them, but when I didn't want to go through with it, I'm the bad guy, the greedy guy. In a war of words, like with the Dodgers, nobody wins. I'm not going there anymore. Just tear up the whole damn contract, send me somewhere else, do whatever you want. It doesn't matter. I'm sick of it."
There is no timetable for when the option might be picked up.
"When it's done, that's the right time," Sheffield said. "When it happens, I'm sure it will catch me off-guard and I'll be happy. And if it doesn't happen, I'll have to do what I have to do. I just want to put on the uniform and do what I do. It's the fans that make me play the way I play. When I get the energy out of right field, especially in the Yankees uniform, those fans make me do what I do. I couldn't have played with one arm in Colorado. You can't motivate me enough to do that. Only the Yankees fans bring that out of me."