<
>

Sheffield stands by comments about Torre

NEW YORK -- Back at Yankee Stadium, where all his brash talk
has turned him into an unpopular foe, Gary Sheffield took a few
more cuts at former manager Joe Torre.

After saying recently that Torre treated black and white players
differently in the New York clubhouse, Sheffield stood by those
comments Thursday and explained why he has a much better
relationship with his current skipper, Jim Leyland of the
Detroit Tigers.

"He's real," Sheffield said. "That's all there is to it. You
get it both ways -- the positive and the negative -- and he's real
about both sides."

As he has all along, Torre declined to offer much of a response
to Sheffield.

"It's all going to go back to the comments. I don't want to go
there," the Yankees' manager said.

Asked if he might talk to Sheffield if he had a chance, Torre
said: "Probably not." He declined to give a specific reason.

Sheffield was in town for the opener of a key four-game series
between Detroit and New York, with both teams contending for a
playoff spot. He said he had no extra motivation to perform well
against the Yankees, who traded him to the Tigers in the offseason.

The slugger was booed before his first plate appearance -- a
clear indication of how popular Torre is in the Big Apple.

Before the game, Sheffield said he was prepared for whatever
reception he might get.

"I produced every year I was here besides the year I got hurt
and I'll leave it at that," he said at his locker, with his ailing
right shoulder wrapped. "I don't have a Boston uniform on, so I
don't know if that's going to make a difference."

Sheffield, who spent three years playing for Torre in New York,
insisted he doesn't regret making his controversial comments to
HBO's Real Sports and he has no desire to clear the air with his
ex-manager.

"I don't have to clear up nothing. I meant what I said, said
what I meant -- and I stand by it," Sheffield said. "Like I said
before, you can do whatever you want with my words, I don't really
care."

Sheffield reiterated that he always felt as though owner George
Steinbrenner was the only member of the Yankees' brass who wanted
him in New York. The nine-time All-Star said he received a letter
from Steinbrenner after he was traded, thanking him for his effort
and contributions, and it meant a lot to him.

"I still have it," Sheffield said.

He felt disrespected by others. According to Sheffield, certain
Yankees decision-makers, including Torre, made it clear early in
his tenure with the team that they thought New York should have
acquired Vladimir Guerrero instead.

But Sheffield said he had no problem with general manager Brian
Cashman, and wasn't upset that the Yankees traded him.

"They wanted me back. It was my choice to leave. I wasn't
willing to play first base for a year," Sheffield said. "I didn't
come here to play first base."

Cashman confirmed that the club would have kept Sheffield if he
were willing to play first this season. Now, Sheffield said he's
happy with his multiyear contract in Detroit -- even though he's had
to adjust to being a designated hitter.

"I got what I wanted. I'm in Detroit. I'm around people who
care about me," said Sheffield, who began the day batting .284
with 71 RBIs and a team-leading 24 homers.

Sheffield said it felt weird to be in the visitors' clubhouse at
Yankee Stadium, but he didn't plan to go out of his way to chat
with his buddies on the other side.

"I have ex-teammates all around the league. It's no
different," Sheffield said.

Sheffield pointed to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as good
friends. But in the interview with HBO's Real Sports, Sheffield
also was outspoken about Jeter.

"If I lose friends, so what. I don't need friends. I've got
plenty of friends," Sheffield said.

"I don't really take myself too seriously," he added.
"Whatever comes my way I just react."