Sheffield won't play in 'something that's made up'

Gary Sheffield wants nothing to do with the World Baseball Classic.

Several major league players spoke of the honor they would feel to represent their countries in baseball's first World Cup-style tournament when the groups for the event were unveiled Monday.

Sheffield was not among them.

The Yankees right fielder told reporters at the All-Star festivities in Detroit on Monday there was no chance he would participate in the event scheduled for March.

"My season is when I get paid," Sheffield told the New York Daily News. "I'm not doing that. ... I'm not sacrificing my body or taking a chance on an injury for something that's made up."

"A lot of guys feel that way. They won't say it like I will, though," he added.

Unlike Sheffield, Miguel Tejada
(Dominican Republic) and Dontrelle Willis (United States) were among several players to come out in support of the tournament at press conferences Monday.

"I just hope I make the team," Willis said jokingly.

Tejada said fans back home would look forward to the event,
which baseball hopes will be played a second time in 2009.

"They're going to be really excited to see all the players on
one team," he said.

The 16-nation, 18-day event opens March 3 in Tokyo or Taiwan, where Group A will include Japan,
South Korea, Taiwan and China.

The United States will be in Group B, which starts play March 8
along with the other groups and will be based in the United States.

Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama and the Netherlands are in Group C,
which will be in Latin America, and the Dominican Republic,
Venezuela, Australia and Italy are in Group D, which will be based
in Florida.

Major League Baseball has spent more than a decade discussing
the tournament and hopes the event will gain in prestige, such as
soccer's World Cup.

Sheffield didn't hold playing in the World Baseball Classic in the same high esteem as playing in the Olympics.

"This isn't the Olympics," he told the Daily News. "That's a big difference. This is something you made up."

The International Olympic Committee voted last week to kick baseball out of the Olympics following the 2008 Beijing Games.

Sheffield, who has been outspoken this season on other topics as well, including deferred money in his contract and the possibility of being traded, attributed some of his negative feelings about the Classic to the risk of being injured during the event -- which would take players away from their MLB teams during spring training.

"A lot of guys say, 'Give it a shot, give it a try,'" Sheffield told the Daily News. "But I don't think so."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.