Sheffield was fielding a ball in the eighth inning of the Red
Sox's 8-5 victory Thursday night when a fan swung a short uppercut
in his direction, appearing to graze the side of the slugger's face
with his right arm.
"Something hit me in the mouth. It felt like a hand,"
Sheffield said later. "I thought my lip was busted."
After Sheffield picked up the ball, he shoved the fan before
throwing the ball back into the infield. Then he whirled around
with a cocked fist, but restrained himself and began shouting in
the man's face.
Sheffield did not throw a punch at the fan, and a security
official quickly jumped in to separate the two. The fan was ejected
from the ballpark but not arrested.
Asked what he was thinking when he restrained himself, Sheffield
mentioned Ron Artest. The Indiana Pacers player rushed into the
stands during an NBA game last November, beating a man he thought
had doused him with beer. Five players, including Artest, and seven
fans were charged in the ensuing melee, and Artest was suspended
for the rest of the season.
The rivalry between the Sox and Yankees has erupted beyond the
field's fences before.
During the 2003 AL playoffs, two Yankees players got into a
brawl with a Red Sox groundskeeper in New York's bullpen. Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia were charged with assault but agreed to a
deal last October that called for the charges against them to be
dropped in six months.