Around the Grapefruit League

Updated: February 22, 2007, 12:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Detroit Tigers: Gary Sheffield knew the New York Yankees were going to trade him. And from his comments in the New York Post for Wednesday's editions, he didn't seem to mind.

"Joe [Torre] took the fire out of me," Sheffield told The Post.

Sheffield, who was dealt to Detroit in the offseason, felt slighted that he wasn't in the starting lineup for Game 3 of last season's American League Division Series against, interestingly enough, the Tigers.

"I am running out on the field with the extra players. Think of what was going through my head," Sheffiled told the paper. "It takes the fight out of you. I have been through a lot. To tell me that I had to run out with the extra players, that took it to another level. I wanted to make sure I didn't lash out and affect the team, but the way we played it looked like we were affected already."

The nine-time All-Star didn't think he was going to end up in Detroit.

"I didn't consider myself a DH, so I really didn't look at that situation," Sheffield told the Associated Press Wednesday morning before his first workout with the Tigers. "I said, 'I'm an outfielder.' I looked at the Cubs, Houston and teams like that. I looked at Boston, but I knew they weren't going to trade me there, and the Mets."

Sheffield said he feels bad for Bernie Williams because the Yankees have offered him only a minor league contract.

"I think he deserves a little better," he said.

Elsewhere in the Grapefruit League:

Atlanta Braves: Mike Hampton was on the mound Wednesday, though he's still far from a sure thing for the Atlanta Braves.

Seventeen months after reconstructive surgery on his left elbow, Hampton threw batting practice during the first full-squad workout of spring training. But he stuck mostly with his fastball, mixing in a couple of changeups before calling it a day.

"Nice and easy," said Hampton, who estimated he was throwing at about 75 percent. "I didn't want to push it. Now, we'll see how it feels tomorrow."

The Braves are counting on Hampton to be a major part of their rotation. He missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2005.

Cleveland Indians: One aspect of the team the Indians don't have to worry about is outfielder Grady Sizemore, who batted .290, hit 28 homers and 53 doubles, stole 22 bases and scored 134 runs last season. Sizemore's all-out style of play is more impressive than his numbers.

"He doesn't remind me of anybody," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's the greatest young player I've ever seen. You talk about people taking days off. He doesn't take a minute off during the day."

Also, despite driving in 45 runs in 50 games last season, first baseman Ryan Garko is on the bubble to make the opening day roster. Garko's fate will depend on whether the Indians have to keep a second utility infielder.

And Wedge said right-hander Fausto Carmona will be the No. 1 starter at Triple-A Buffalo. Carmona, 22, will be the first starter called up if a starting pitcher is injured.

Florida Marlins: Miguel Cabrera was the first player in the batting cage Wednesday during the Florida Marlins' initial full-squad workout. He's coming off an arbitration win that awarded him $7.4 million.

"He's our Manny Ramirez," Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis said. "It's fun to watch. I set the bar very high for him. He's that smart, he's that strong and he's that talented, and he wants to be one of the great ones."

Also, right-hander Josh Johnson played catch for the first time since camp began and said he was pain-free. Johnson, 12-7 as a rookie last year, had a recurrence earlier this month of the forearm soreness that ended his season prematurely in September.

Houston Astros: Manager Phil Garner said catcher Brad Ausmus won't throw "for a couple of days" to heal a sore right shoulder.

Also, despite going 1-5 with six blown saves in 2006, Brad Lidge will start the season as the Astros closer. "He looks great so far," said Garner, who will put the Astros through their first full-squad workout Thursday.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Jeff Kent won't say if this is his final season in baseball.

The Dodgers' second baseman, who will be 39 on opening day, was the final Los Angeles player to arrive in camp Wednesday.

"Last year I talked about it a lot. This year I won't," Kent said. "Maybe that's the telltale sign that it might be."

Manager Grady Little said everyone on the team is healthy except for pitcher Yhency Brazoban, who had Tommy John surgery last year.

The right-hander threw 10-15 pitches from the mound Wednesday but Little said it would be "surprising" if he was in a game this spring.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins badly need some production from the DH spot. Last season, 17 players were used there. Together, they hit .258 with 63 RBIs and nine home runs -- the lowest total in the league.

Jason Kubel has the ability to turn that around. At age 24, he's still a prospect, but he missed all of 2005 after reconstructive knee surgery. He played well in limited time last season but wore down. After arthroscopic surgery to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee over the winter, Kubel is apparently at full strength.

"He's got a lot of talent, but obviously he's been hurt," general manager Terry Ryan said. "Now let's open it up and see what happens."

New York Mets: Manager Willie Randolph was impressed with 22-year-old reliever Ambiorix Burgos and his 100 mph fastball. Burgos was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in December for starter Brian Bannister.

"Burgos just looks like he has electric stuff," Randolph said. "He shattered a couple of bats and not too many guys were swinging in there against him."

After winning the NL East last season, the Mets think they're the team to beat in the division this year -- no matter what Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins says. "We're the defending National League East champions," All-Star third baseman David Wright said. "Our mindset all those years the Braves were the defending champs was that they were the team to beat. So, until they prove it on the field, it's just talk."

Philadelphia Phillies: Tom Gordon, the 39-year-old right-hander slated to be the team's closer, scrapped the shoulder exercises he'd been doing throughout his career for a series of techniques he learned from a trainer with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

Gordon spent part of his winter working out at the team's spring training complex and came to spring training feeling better than he has in years.

"I focused on the intense shoulder exercises they have here," Gordon said Wednesday. "They have a real strenuous shoulder program that I liked. Going into last year, I was so used to the ones I've done for 18, 19 years, I couldn't get a feel for them, especially once I got sore. This offseason I tried to concentrate on those and the areas of my shoulder that really needed to be stepped up and stretched a little more."

Also, left-hander Matt Smith and outfielder Shane Victorino agreed to terms on contracts for this season.

Toronto Blue Jays: Tomo Ohka arrived at the Toronto Blue Jays' training camp on Wednesday, five days after the voluntary reporting date, due to visa problems.

Ohka agreed last month to a $1.5 million, one-year contract after going 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA in 18 starts for the Milwaukee Brewers last year.

"I'm a bit sleepy. Right now it's 2 a.m. in Japan. The trip was 15 hours," Ohka said.

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