Spring Training Notebook

Gary Sheffield Reaches Agreement With New York Mets

Nine-time all-star Gary Sheffield, recently released by the Tigers, will get another chance to pursue his 500th career home run with the Mets.
Nine-time all-star Gary Sheffield, recently released by the Tigers, will get another chance to pursue his 500th career home run with the Mets. (By Mike Carlson -- Associated Press)
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Associated Press
Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gary Sheffield plans to go for No. 500 with the New York Mets.

One home run shy of the milestone, Sheffield reached a contract agreement with New York yesterday, three days after he was released by the Detroit Tigers in a surprising move.

Set to open their gleaming new ballpark last night with an exhibition game against Boston, the Mets made another splash by acquiring Sheffield. He is expected to be in New York today and the deal is contingent on him passing a physical, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said.

Minaya said Manager Jerry Manuel had spoken to Sheffield and explained exactly what sort of role he envisioned for the nine-time all-star.

Sheffield is one big swing from becoming the 25th player to reach 500 home runs. The Tigers will have to pay $13.6 million of his $14 million contract this year while the Mets get him for the major league minimum of $400,000.

Minaya said Sheffield has wanted to play for the Mets ever since his uncle, Dwight Gooden, was a star pitcher for them in the 1980s and '90s. Sheffield played across town with the Yankees from 2004 to 2006, putting up two big seasons followed by an injury-shortened one before he was traded to the Tigers.

Often outspoken, Sheffield was Detroit's designated hitter before he was released. Shoulder injuries and other problems limited him to 114 games and a .225 average with 19 homers and 57 RBI last season. He hit .178 with five homers in 45 spring training at-bats this year.

-- MARINERS: Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is being treated for a bleeding ulcer and was placed on the 15-day disabled list, sending Seattle into Opening Day minus one of baseball's best players.

The Mariners said the ulcer is no longer bleeding, but doctors have restricted the 35-year-old outfielder's activity.

Suzuki played for Japan in the World Baseball Classic. He complained of severe fatigue and missed Seattle's final three spring training games in Arizona, and was diagnosed with the ulcer -- a relatively rare condition for an athlete -- after seeing doctors Thursday.

It's the first time in his major league career Suzuki has been on the disabled list. He has been remarkably healthy since arriving in Seattle in 2001, missing just 16 games in his eight-year career and only three games in the past five seasons. Suzuki had played in 197 consecutive games. The move was retroactive to March 31, meaning Suzuki will be eligible to come off the disabled list April 15.

Suzuki hit .273 for Japan in the WBC, playing in nine games, including his game-winning, two-run single in the 10th inning of the championship game to give Japan a 5-3 win over Korea. In limited spring training at-bats, Suzuki went 5 for 12.

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