Sheffield likely out until September

Sheffield likely out until September

NEW YORK -- With Hideki Matsui out until September with a fractured wrist, the Yankees were hopeful that therapy would be enough to get Gary Sheffield and his ailing wrist back on the field before too long.

That won't be the case.

Sheffield will undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament and dislocating tendon in his left wrist on Tuesday, and the outfielder isn't expected to return to the Yankees until September.

"This is the quickest way -- probably the only way -- to get him back playing before the season is over," said general manager Brian Cashman.

"He's doing as well as can be expected," said Rufus Williams, Sheffield's attorney. "This is by no stretch a season-ending injury. It was not going to heal on its own, so this was the only option to get him back on the field."

Sheffield has been on the disabled list twice this season, both the result of injuries to his left wrist. Tuesday's surgery, which will be performed by hand specialist Dr. Charles Melone, will repair both the torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his wrist, which landed him on the DL on June 1.

"It's probably the best thing," said manager Joe Torre. "He had something that wasn't getting any better. My concern when players are hurt is that they get well; hopefully this is the right step."

The outfielder missed 16 games from May 6-23 with a bruised left wrist, an injury suffered during a collision with Toronto first baseman Shea Hillenbrand. Sheffield returned to the lineup on May 23 in Boston, the first of six consecutive games he played before re-injuring his wrist.

During Sheffield's absence, the Yankees will use a combination of Bernie Williams and Bubba Crosby in right field. Crosby is currently on the DL with a hamstring injury, but he will begin a rehab assignment this weekend and could return next week.

The Yankees are 6-2 since Sheffield went down with his latest injury.

"It's no different than it was yesterday," Torre said. "I'd hate to rely on any one person, because in the event that you lose that person, psychologically, you don't want the ballclub to take a hit. You try to go out there every day and find a way to win. We've been fortunate, because these kids have stepped up huge."

"Right now, what you can say is that we're a little thin," the manager added. "We're all right with the team we put on the field, we just need to make sure we can continue to do that."

According to Sheffield's agent, the right fielder will begin rehabbing his wrist six weeks after the surgery. Six weeks after that, he should be able to return, putting him on track to return to the field right around Labor Day.

"It's tough; he was looking forward to a huge season," Williams said. "His interest is getting back. It's frustrating for him not to be able to play for a while."

The Yankees have been playing without Matsui for the past month, and the left fielder is no guarantee to return this season. Melky Cabrera will continue to play left field for New York while Matsui is on the DL.

Sheffield is hitting .309 with four home runs and 19 RBIs this season, the final year of his three-year, $39 million contract. The Yankees hold a $13 million option on Sheffield for 2007, but Cashman said that the latest developments have no impact on that decision, which won't be made until after the season.

"We addressed that in Spring Training; there's nothing new to that story. It doesn't involve this injury," Cashman said. "We have until the end of the season. The option is not part of today's discussion at all."

"Gary expects to play another three years after this season," Williams said. "Gary was in the top 10 of MVP voting last year [he finished eighth] and he was the runner-up the year before. He's an MVP-caliber player. He'll come back this year; he's done all he can do. If this impacts the option, that's a question only Cashman can answer."

Cashman insisted that he is not out looking to deal for an outfielder, though he won't rule out that possibility, either.

"We're very pleased with the way things are going," Cashman said. "You can't replace a Gary Sheffield, but I won't be aggressively pursuing any position players."

"If I run into something that makes sense, that's one thing, but I don't have an APB out -- and haven't had one -- that we need this or that," he added. "I said at the beginning that we had to find out if we had the answer here first, and thankfully, we're finding out that maybe some guys are indeed the answer, that they can hold the fort until our boys get back."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.