Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield could be sidelined for a significant period of time because of an injury to his right thumb.
Sheffield hurt the thumb during Saturday's spring training contest against Toronto. It was believed to be just a bruise, but an MRI exam on Sunday may have revealed a more serious injury. He had x-rays Monday and left for New York to see a hand specialist.
The Yankees wouldn't comment on the severity of the injury or results of the MRI or x-rays. However, it's believed Sheffield could be out 2-3 months if surgery is required.
The Yankees signed the free agent to a three-year, $39 million contract in the offseason with a club option for a fourth year in 2007.
The 35-year-old Sheffield batted .330 with 39 home runs and a career-high 132 RBI for the Braves last season. Atlanta didn't offer Sheffield arbitration.
Sheffield, who will be entering his 17th major league season, has a lifetime batting average of .299 with 379 homers and 1,232 RBI. His career includes stints with the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta. He earned a World Series with the Marlins in 1997 and has appeared in seven All-Star Games, including last year's Mid- Summer Classic.
New York is already without centerfielder Bernie Williams, who underwent an appendectomy and will probably miss the season-opening two-game series against Tampa Bay in Tokyo, March 30-31.