Source: Tigers put disgruntled Sheffield on waivers

Updated: August 13, 2008, 1:37 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

One day after Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was "flabbergasted" by Gary Sheffield's complaints about playing time, Sheffield was among several Tigers placed on waivers by the club Tuesday, according to a major league source.

Down And Now Out?

Gary Sheffield has definitely been off his game this season. Here's a breakdown of his 2008 numbers versus what he averaged his first 20 years in the bigs:

1988-2007 2008*
BA .296 .219
HR per season 24.0 10
RBI per season 78.8 33
*76 games
Teams aren't permitted to comment on the waiver process, so it's possible the timing is coincidental. But there were indications that the Tigers floated Sheffield's name in trade talks before the July 31 trading deadline. So it seems likely that Sheffield's latest remarks have prompted them to see if interest in him may have picked up this month in the wake of a number of injuries to prominent players on several contenders.

Other teams would have until Thursday afternoon to place a claim on Sheffield, who has one year remaining on his contract (at $14 million) beyond this season. If he clears waivers, he could be traded to any of the other 29 teams. If he's claimed, the Tigers then would have 48 hours to deal him to the club that claims him.

Sheffield was in the lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday and homered twice in Detroit's 6-4 loss.

On Monday, Sheffield said he wants to play every day and the nine-time All-Star feels he's in a platoon for the Tigers. He also said he doesn't think he should be solely a designated hitter.

"I can be in the outfield and play every day. I don't want to DH," Sheffield told the Boston Globe. "I don't feel like a baseball player when I DH. I don't know how to be the leader that I am from the bench. I can't be a vocal leader. I can't talk to guys from the bench because I don't feel right about it.

"I'm in a role now where I don't know what to do, really. The guys are out there busting their butt for nine innings, they come in and they hit and they grind. I just sit down and hit. That's all I do, so I can't be in a leadership role from that position."

Leyland said he was "flabbergasted" by Sheffield's comments, which were published in a Boston Globe story and repeated Monday, because shoulder injuries have limited his playing time and accepting his role as a DH was a condition of being acquired.

Shortly after losing to St. Louis in the 2006 World Series, Detroit traded prospects to the New York Yankees for the slugger and gave him a $28 million contract extension through 2009.

"I told him that all I had here for him was a DH. If he did not want to accept that, do not accept the trade," Leyland recalled. "I'm still confused by the article because it talks about 'platoon doesn't set well.' Gary Sheffield never platooned here.

"Platoon is when you have a left-hand hitter and a right-hand hitter. One plays against right-hand pitching and one plays against left-hand pitching. That is a platoon."

Leyland said Sheffield played in 39 of 51 games before going on the disabled list in May and played in 36 of the past 43 games, entering Monday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Anybody that has a brain knows that's not a platoon," Leyland said.

Sheffield stuck with his take on the situation after hearing Leyland's side of the story.

"I come in some days and I don't play and some days I play. That's platooning to me," Sheffield said. "You might think it's different. It's not a big deal, but that's the way I feel."

Sheffield was booed before his first at-bat against Toronto and heard more jeers after striking out looking.

He began the game hitting .222 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 75 games.

Leyland put Sheffield in left field three months ago when Jacque Jones was cut.

"I never accepted that I was just a pure DH," Sheffield said when the move was made in May. "A DH is a guy that couldn't do anything else. And, I'm not that."

Sheffield played left field for six games during May 5-16 with poor results because his right shoulder was not 100 percent after having offseason surgery.

"I tried to play him in the outfield. It didn't work," Leyland said. "He couldn't throw in from the outfield."

Both Leyland and Sheffield insisted they weren't upset about the situation.

General manager Dave Dombrowski shrugged his shoulders when asked about Sheffield being unhappy about being a DH.

"If he's found out he doesn't like it, well, that's the only role we have for him at this time," Dombrowski said. "He has not shown from a health perspective that he's been able to play every day in the outfield. He just has to perform the task that's asked of him."

Although Sheffield has never been shy about speaking his mind, he likely crossed a line with the Tigers this time.

"I'm sure he's frustrated because injuries have not enabled him to do what he's done in the past," Leyland said Monday, according to the Detroit News. "I totally understand that. He's a potential Hall of Fame guy, and I've always told him to say what he feels. Just remember that everyone doesn't agree with it.

"This is something I don't agree with."

Jayson Stark covers major league baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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