Yankees to rest right fielder for opener

Updated: September 20, 2004, 4:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Gary Sheffield
Right Field
New York Yankees
144 35 116 111 5 .297

NEW YORK -- Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield, who missed three games the last time he took a cortisone shot in his ailing left shoulder, will not play Monday night against Toronto.

Sheffield is recovering from two cortisone shots in his shoulder that he received after being removed in the eighth inning of Sunday's 11-1 victory over the Red Sox. He has been playing with bursitis and a separated muscle in the shoulder for much of the season.

Despite playing regularly in pain, Sheffield has been a reliable producer in the Yankees' vaunted offense. The AL MVP candidate is batting .297 with 35 home runs, 116 RBI, and a .400 on-base percentage.

Tuesday's starter: Loaiza over El Duque
Esteban Loaiza has gotten the call over a not-so-rested Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez for Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees manager Joe Torre was tempted to go with Hernandez, who threw only 68 pitches over three innings before two rain delays ended his outing Friday against Boston. Tuesday's starter would be in line to pitch Sunday's series finale at Fenway Park.

"He's a creature of habit." Torre, talking to reporters Sunday, said of Hernandez. "We talked to him and it's not worth taking a chance. We have more to accomplish than trying to win a particular game."

Hernandez is 8-0 since joining the Yankees' rotation in July.
-- ESPN.com news services

"I can't put into words what Sheffield has meant," manager Joe Torre said. "He's special."

Torre decided several hours before Monday's game to rest Sheffield.

Sheffield said he would not have gotten the two shots Sunday if the Yankees hadn't taken two of three from Boston over the weekend. New York's lead over Boston in the AL East stands at 4½ games.

When he plays again, Sheffield said Sunday, "just depends on how I react to it. Right now, I don't have any feeling in my shoulder. I missed three games last time, hopefully it's different this time."

Torre said he'll see how Sheffield is feeling Tuesday before deciding whether he plays that night against the Blue Jays.