Gary Sheffield knows who leads the New York Yankees, and it apparently isn't SS Derek Jeter or 3B Alex Rodriguez.

Sheffield all but appointed himself the Yankees' most valuable player in an interview with New York magazine. He accused reporters of distorting the truth and ruining team chemistry.

"I know who the leader is on the team," Sheffield, an outfielder, told the magazine. "I ain't going to say who it is, but I know who it is. I know who the team feeds off. I know who the opposing team comes in knowing they have to defend to stop the Yankees.

"I know this. The people don't know. Why? The media don't want them to know. They want to promote two players in a positive light, and everyone else is garbage."

Sheffield said yesterday that Jeter is not the leader.

"Jeter is our captain. He's not the leader. He's the captain," Sheffield said.

Jeter said he has a good relationship with Sheffield and that the article doesn't change anything. Rodriguez was not available to comment.

"From what I understand he never mentioned my name," Jeter said. "My name was brought into it, but it never came out of his mouth."

Manager Joe Torre said he would talk to Sheffield.

* ROYALS HONOR MARINE: The Royals had a moment of silence before last night's game to honor the nephew of Manager Buddy Bell.

Lance Cpl. Tim Bell Jr. was among the 14 Marines killed by a roadside bomb Wednesday in Iraq.

"I'm doing all right," Buddy Bell said. "There's a lot of support there. My other nephew and two nieces are here. My brother [Timothy] is actually coming in later . . . so I get to see him."

Bell is planning to attend the services, which are still pending. Tim Bell, 22, was from West Chesterfield, Ohio.

"There's not a whole lot you can say," Buddy Bell said. "This will pass. My brother and his family are doing fine, considering. I've had a tremendous amount of calls of support. It's awesome."

The Royals had already scheduled tonight as military appreciation night.

* SUSPENSIONS FOR TWO: Indians RHP Kevin Millwood was suspended for five games and RHP David Riske for four for intentionally hitting batters during a game against the Mariners last week.

-- From News Services