PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK / BOB NIGHTENGALE : Sheffield Now Caught Between Articles on His Days as a Brewer
ST. LOUIS--Padre third baseman Gary Sheffield can’t understand it. He really thought those days were long behind him once he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Padres.
Sheffield feels as if Brewer fans still are trying to torment him.
“Milwaukee fans want to get back at me and stir it up,” Sheffield said. “I don’t get it. I want Milwaukee to do well, I really do.”
“But then this stuff happens.”
Sheffield was perturbed Monday by a column in USA Today stating the Commissioner’s office has received faxes and letters from Brewer fans asking for an investigation of possible wrongdoings by Sheffield in Milwaukee.
The fans’ complaint stems from a June 11 article in The Times quoting Sheffield about his frustrations as a Brewer.
“The Brewers brought out the hate in me,” Sheffield told The Times. “I was a crazy man. . . . I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn’t think was an error, I’d say, ‘OK, here’s a real error,’ and I’d throw the next ball into the stands on purpose.’ ”
Brewer fans, mistakenly believing that Sheffield’s quote was an admission that he wasn’t performing up to his ability, have asked Commissioner Fay Vincent to respond.
Sheffield said Monday: “What I said was out of frustration. They want to take something and run with it.
“Why would a player purposely make mistakes? I’d never do anything to hurt the team. You get paid to play.”
Sheffield said the only time he may have made an error purposely out of anger was when he was in the Brewer minor-league system.
Still, he wonders why Brewer fans have waited almost two months to send protest letters--the same time Sheffield has been in the news for his pursuit of the triple crown.
A case of frustration, perhaps?
“I don’t know why they’d be frustrated,” Sheffield said, “they’re winning. I don’t understand any of this. It’s irrelevant to even talk about it.”
Reliever Larry Andersen said Monday he’s angry the Padres have placed him on the disabled list with a strained right elbow, saying he’s healthy enough to pitch.
“I’m not happy about it,” Andersen said. They know it. Everybody knows it. They get paid for making those decisions, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.
“I just know I could pitch tonight. I could have pitched Sunday. I’m fine.
“My concern is why they did it (made the DL move) when they did it. That’s what surprised me. When they called me into the office, I thought they were trading me or releasing me, not this.”
Andersen, who has been bothered by a tender elbow for the past week, pitched on the side Saturday. The elbow was sore, he said, but it felt fine Sunday and was 100% Monday.
No matter, the Padres made the move Saturday night after the game, retroactive to Aug. 24. They recalled reliever Jeremy Hernandez, giving them the luxury of having both pitchers on their playoff roster, if necessary.
“I understand why they did it,” Andersen said, “but I don’t like it. In their defense, I’m sure they want me to take my time and be sure I’m healthy instead of taking a chance of me re-injuring it and lose me again.
“Still, I’ve spent enough time on the DL, this is the last thing I wanted to do again.”
Although Andersen knows the Padres won’t pick up his $2 million option for the 1993 season, he still wants to return, even at a substantial pay decrease.
“I just want to show them what I can do when I’m healthy,” he said, “and not have everything prefaced by my contract.”
Sheffield was mystified Monday after reading accounts of Sunday’s game in which he glared at Pirate pitcher Bob Walk, who threw eephus pitches in the sixth inning. “Hey, I wasn’t glaring at him. I was laughing. I was winking.
“His tactic worked. He gave me respect.”
Sheffield also supported Pirate outfielder Barry Bonds’ claim that Bonds wasn’t laughing at Padre starter Jim Deshaies after an intentional walk in the game. The incident caused both benches to empty.
“Barry told me before the game that he would catch me in homers and RBIs,” Sheffield said. “I told him, the reason you won’t catch me is because they keep walking. So when we walked him, that’s when we both started laughing. I guess Deshaies thought he was laughing at him.
“You try to play the game with a lot of fun, and that’s all that was, having fun.”
Cardinal reliever Lee Smith entered Monday’s game with a career-high 12 saves in August, one shy of the major league record of 13, shared by John Franco and Bobby Thigpen.
“This is probably the best month I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Smith said, “in terms of consistency and the amount of work.”
Although Smith attributes much of his success to the work of setup man Todd Worrell, he realizes Worrell likely will leave at the end of the season as a free agent.
“Obviously, I’d like to see him stay,” Smith said. “But if it happens that we’re not together next year, I’m not going to go home and not be able to sleep at night.
“I don’t blame him for wanting the opportunity to be the closer. You get accustomed to do a job and that’s what you want to do. (Worrell’s) meant a lot to me and the ballclub this year, but it’s not up to me. I’ll let (general manager) Dal (Maxvill) handle that.”
The Cardinals released pitcher Jose DeLeon and recalled third baseman Todd Zeile from triple-A Louisville. In 21 games, Zeile was batting .311 with four doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs.