Sheffield: Yankees likely to pick up option for 2007

TAMPA, Fla. -- Gary Sheffield reported to spring training Tuesday and was upbeat after the Yankees said they'd likely keep him around for 2007.

Sheffield is entering the final season of a $39 million, three-year contract, and the Yankees hold a $13 million option for 2007.

"They brought me in and told me they were probably going to pick the option up," Sheffield said after meeting with general manager Brian Cashman. "You always want to earn whatever you get. I take a lot pride in that. He didn't have to bring me in today. I appreciate that. When I was a free agent, a lot of teams called and I really didn't answer. There was only one place, and that still remains the same. I don't want to play for nobody else but the Yankees."

Cashman said there is no timetable regarding a final decision. Sheffield's contract calls for the option to be exercised within five days of the end of the World Series or Nov. 5.

"He's such a great player, I'd be surprised at the end of this thing if we're not doing something," Cashman said. "Let's play this thing through and see where it goes. I'm not saying we'll do anything soon. I'm not saying we're not going to do anything until the very end. I don't know yet."

Sheffield negotiated his contract personally with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who said the option matter will be Cashman's call.

"Brian is the boss of that," Steinbrenner said. "It's up to Brian. We'll see what Brian does. It's in his hands."

Sheffield, a 37-year-old outfielder, was bothered by several physical ailments last season, including a thigh injury that hampered him in September. He still hit .291 with 34 homers and 123 RBI in 154 games.

"I'm a year-at-a-time guy," Sheffield said. "If I have a good year, go on the next one. I want to go out on a high note."

Instead of taking a few weeks off and then resuming workouts, Sheffield spent the offseason traveling to a number of locations including France, Italy, Britain, Bermuda and Las Vegas.

"I think it was needed because at this point in my career my body needs to heal," Sheffield said. "I wasn't giving it a chance to heal. I think that's why the injuries affected me late in the season. Now I get a chance to get in shape at spring training and start off fresh."

Sheffield said he might benefit from a day off occasionally during the season. Manager Joe Torre has indicated that Sheffield and left fielder Hideki Matsui will see some action this year at DH.

Cashman talked earlier in spring training with pitcher Mike Mussina, who will complete a six-year contract after this season. Mussina has a $17 million option for 2007 with a $1.5 million buyout.

"I'm pretty sure it won't be picked up," Mussina said. "They want to see me healthy, just like me. I'm OK with that."

The 37-year-old right-hander went 13-8 with a 4.41 ERA in 30 starts last year. He missed three weeks in September because of inflammation near his elbow.