NY Times wrote:Sheffield Warns 29 Teams: You Don't Want Me
By JACK CURRY
Published: June 30, 2005
BALTIMORE, June 29 - Gary Sheffield has always considered himself a tough street kid from Tampa, Fla., who developed into a superb baseball player by doing it his way. If Sheffield was pushed, he pushed back harder. Sometimes, he has pushed back even when he has not been pushed or has only been nudged.
Sheffield, the Yankees' right fielder, pushed back hard Wednesday after learning that the Mets had asked about obtaining him for outfielder Mike Cameron. In a blitz of a 10-minute interview before the Yankees' game against the Orioles was rained out, Sheffield repeatedly warned teams about the possible repercussions of acquiring him.
"I would never sit out," Sheffield said. "I would go play for them. It doesn't mean I'm going to be happy playing there. And if I'm unhappy, you don't want me on your team. It's just that simple. I'll make that known to anyone."
On Tuesday, Sheffield said that he would not join another team if he were traded and would forfeit his salary. After the trade discussions between the Mets and the Yankees were reported in The New York Post on Wednesday, Sheffield quickly changed his mind about possibly leaving. But he was adamant about being a divisive influence if the Yankees ever moved him.
"If I'm not happy, you don't want me on your team, period," Sheffield said. "That's just the way it goes. That's life. I have to deal with what they dish out, they got to deal with what I dish out, period. That's just the way it's going to be."
While Sheffield was issuing warnings here, the usually boisterous Cameron was mostly silent with reporters at Shea Stadium before last night's game against the Phillies. Cameron, who requested and received a Yankees cap during last year's interleague games, said he knew nothing about the trade discussions and deferred questions to General Manager Omar Minaya.
"I'm here to play baseball," said Cameron, who answered no questions and scooted past reporters.
Sheffield, who agreed to defer $13 million when he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Yankees before the 2004 season, said his words were intended to prevent potential suitors, including the Mets, from pursuing him. Sheffield said that the deferments were his concession to the Yankees, so, if displaced from the Bronx, he would seek a lucrative contract extension.
"I'll ask for everything," he said. "Everything. You're going to inconvenience me, I'm going to inconvenience every situation there is."
If Sheffield had spoken to Manager Joe Torre before talking to reporters, he might not have been so angered. Torre told Sheffield that General Manager Brian Cashman had admitted that the Mets asked about him, but that the Yankees did not embrace the discussions. Cashman tried to call Sheffield to explain but did not have his new cellphone number.
"I just wanted to let him know that we turned down any inquiry about him," Torre said. "We said, 'No thank you.' I wanted to give him what Cash gave me."
The Yankees, who want to improve their defense in center field, have been aggressive in pursuing Cameron and asked about him three weeks ago. The Mets countered by asking for Sheffield because they would love to sandwich him between Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd in their lineup. The Yankees like Cameron and would benefit from his athleticism, but they instantly refused to sacrifice the powerful Sheffield.
So the Sheffield-for-Cameron discussions barely advanced, and the talks have not reopened. As much as Cashman wants to jolt the Yankees out of their malaise, he would create more problems by giving up Sheffield for Cameron. Sheffield, who is batting .300 with 13 homers and 55 runs batted in, finished second in the balloting for most valuable player last season.
The Mets have told teams that if they trade Cameron they do not want to absorb additional salary, which makes the slim chances of a deal even more remote. Cameron will earn $6 million this year and in 2006, while Sheffield will earn $13 million this year and next, with $9 million of it deferred. The Yankees, who would trade Sheffield only if they were overwhelmed by an offer, would not agree to pay part of his salary, too.
"The Yankees would never just give up Gary Sheffield," said one American League executive who has discussed trades with the Yankees, but who insisted on anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize future deals. "I think the Mets would want this more than them."
Minaya, who engaged in talks to deal Cameron for a reliever in spring training, called Cameron "part of our core." Cameron, 32, who was shifted to right field to make room for Beltran in center this season, was hitting .298 with 6 homers and 16 R.B.I. before Wednesday night's game.
Sheffield lamented this week how he had not been given the starts at designated hitter that he expected, saying he anticipated playing at least 40 games at D.H. That possibility would vanish with the Mets, except during interleague games.
"He's tough," Torre said. "He plays the game the way his personality is: no nonsense. He tells you what's on his mind. He leaves nothing in the bag."
Although Sheffield does not have a no-trade clause, he attempted to wrestle some control of his situation by warning any team that was interested in him. At 36, Sheffield has obviously matured, but he is still the player who made throwing errors early in his career to help force his exit from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cameron, his Yankees cap apparently safe somewhere, chose not to discuss the possibility he might be dealt. That was in stark contrast to Sheffield. His strategy of sounding off was calculating. What team would risk adding a player who detested the idea of being shipped there and had promised to be a problem?
"That's my plan," Sheffield said. "That's why I'm saying it. I don't want them to come after me. Don't ask about me. I'm not interested in doing anything in regards to any other team, period."