Fallout of Trade Still to Come


Calling the Dodgers “liars” and ending hope of reconciliation, Gary Sheffield blasted Chairman Bob Daly on Thursday, reaffirming his desire to be traded as soon as possible.

The left fielder, who says he will report to Dodgertown today, said that the Dodgers have misled the public, resulting in unfair backlash against him nationwide.

Sheffield reiterated recent comments that he did not demand to be traded or given a lucrative contract extension, saying the Dodgers created that perception to cover their mishandling of his request to become a “lifetime Dodger.”


And he singled out Daly, saying the inexperienced baseball executive bungled the situation and then “set out to bury” him.

Sheffield believes the Dodgers betrayed him, and now he is fighting back before the door closes.

“Mr. Daly thinks he’s going to be able to crack me, but it’s not going to happen,” said Sheffield, contacted at his off-season home in Tampa, Fla. “I won’t apologize and I won’t give in. He’s a man just like I’m a man, and he knows what really happened and I know what really happened.

“He wants to make me look as bad as possible to take the attention off his organization and the bad moves they’ve made. That’s fine with me. The ball is in their court, and if they want to play it that way, I can play it that way too. That just makes it tougher--and I can get tougher. They haven’t seen how tough I can get.”

Sheffield said he is upset with the Dodgers and Daly in particular because he has been portrayed as a “greedy athlete” in the wake of his extension request.

The six-time all-star insists that a trade demand was not part of contract discussions he and his agent, Jim Neader, had with Daly and President Bob Graziano.


Moreover, Sheffield said Daly could not have been shocked about the extension request--as the club’s top executive claimed--because it was broached in a Nov. 30 meeting at Dodger Stadium.

“We told them back in November that I wanted to finish my career as a Dodger and we talked about this,” Sheffield said. “We told them we wanted to keep this behind closed doors because that’s how I like to handle [negotiations], I don’t want to have any contract disputes in public.

“We talked about it, so how could he say he was shocked? There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth. I’m telling the truth: I never demanded to be traded. I never demanded to have my contract torn up. That’s what they want people to think, but it doesn’t matter if somebody lies when you know the truth.”

Derrick Hall, Dodger senior vice president, commented on behalf of Daly.

“The only reason I can think of for Gary to be upset with Bob Daly is that Bob was the one who turned down his request for a lifetime contract,” Hall said. “Bob is the one who said no to Gary.”

The Dodgers said that Neader requested at a Feb. 9 meeting that Sheffield be traded to the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets or New York Yankees before the season, or be given an extension comparable to this winter’s free-agent deals, and a signing bonus to elevate the 12-year veteran among the majors’ highest-paid players until his new contract took effect.

But Sheffield said he did not consider being traded until Daly confronted him at a Feb. 13 meeting at Sheffield’s Bel-Air home.


“I told him [if the club declined an extension] he was going to have an unhappy Dodger on his hands,” Sheffield said. “That’s when he said he was going to trade me in 72 hours. Like I said, it’s all about trying to make me look bad.

“The worst thing is that, from the day I met with them, I was enthusiastic. I said to my wife [DeLeon], ‘I’m going to be a lifetime Los Angeles Dodger.’ I was happy. That’s what I wanted and I believed that’s what they wanted. To get from that point to this point, it shows me a lot about the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.”

Daly is beginning his second season in baseball, and Sheffield said the former studio boss still has much to learn.

“I look at the game as strictly business,” Sheffield said. “The problem is that Mr. Daly is taking this to heart. You have a man who never put on a uniform making baseball decisions. Instead of putting all this stuff out there when I asked to be a lifetime Dodger, he should have just said, ‘No, you’re going to play for the Dodgers and that’s it.’

“Instead, he set out to bury me. To make himself and his organization look good he said, ‘I’m going to bury you.’ That’s why it isn’t going to work in L.A. Too many bridges have been burned. They tried to make it personal, but I’m not going to stoop to their level. What they don’t understand is that when I have people lie [about] me, it just makes me stronger.

“If everyone in this organization is now so in tune with each other like they say, then how come their general manager [Kevin Malone] didn’t know about this?”


Sheffield will report today, but his heart will not be there.

“That’s about all I’m going to be doing is coming there,” he said. “I’ll put the uniform on, but you know I don’t want it on and they know I don’t want it on. My mind is going to be on one of those three teams [Braves, Mets or Yankees] and how I can get there.

“If they keep me I will play, but I don’t want to hit one more home run for the Dodgers. If I have to keep putting that uniform on, I’ll be the last one to put it on. I’ll be the last one to leave [the clubhouse] each day.”

A trade to the Mets might be out of the question. Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile expressed concern that Sheffield’s presence might adversely affect the climate in the New York clubhouse.

“The one thing we have here is that we work well together,” Ventura said. “Nobody here looks to promote themselves. We’re just here to play. That’s it. . . . You get concerned when there’s an attitude like that that they’re thinking of bringing in.”

Zeile said he was uncomfortable with “a good player who has bad things to say about his teammates.”

Sheffield might receive a cool reception in Dodgertown because of quotes attributed to him in Baseball Weekly that criticized management for giving more money to what he considers lesser players.


“I never said anything about my teammates,” said Sheffield, who claims he was misquoted. “I would never do that. That’s absurd. I would never speak about other guys’ contracts. That’s not an issue to me. The only issue was Gary Sheffield wanting to be a lifetime Dodger. I was making money before a lot of those guys were. Why would I care about their money? I’ve got money to go buy whatever I want.”

Many officials and players were incensed that starter Darren Dreifort was among those mentioned in the story.

“Do you know how mad I would feel at the Dodgers if they let Darren Dreifort get away?” Sheffield said. “I went to Dreifort and told him I would take a pay cut to help him stay. I never would talk about Dreifort’s money. Dreifort is a friend of mind. He came to my wife’s birthday party.

“I talked to [reliever] Gregg Olson on the phone the other day. . . . I told him I didn’t say that stuff. I told him I’ll talk to guys when I get there and give them my side of the story. But this doesn’t surprise me because [reporters] waited for the first chance they could get to write whatever they wanted to about me, and to say this and that about Gary Sheffield.”

Sheffield said he hopes to soon leave Los Angeles.

“The fans didn’t like me and I knew that and [the Dodgers] knew that,” he said. “I was always one bad interview or one bad day away from this happening.”

Dodger Notes

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, recovering from an appendectomy and infection that caused him to lose 24 pounds, sat out workouts for the second consecutive day. The Dodgers hope that Beltre, still not eating solid food, will be ready for opening day.



Newsday contributed to this story.



Face it. Gary Sheffield has won. The Dodgers must give him away, and everyone knows it. D13