Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield had his injured right thumb examined on Tuesday in New York and the seven-time All-Star is expected to return to the lineup for spring training games later this week in Florida.
Sheffield was examined at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center by Yankees' team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon and by hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser. The outfielder has a recurrent injury of a previously torn ligament in his right thumb.
Sheffield hurt the thumb last season, but the torn ligament was not detected. He aggravated the injury during Saturday's spring training contest against Toronto. A subsequent MRI and x-ray revealed the ligament tear and his thumb will be carefully monitored. If he decides to have surgery, Sheffield would likely be sidelined two to three months.
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.