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Sheffield's wrist is fine, swing is back

Sheffield's wrist is fine, powerful swing is back

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Gary Sheffield has always had one of the more violent swings in baseball, at least when he was healthy. As powerful as that swing is, it has also been one of the more successful -- when Sheffield is healthy.

After taking his textbook cuts in a game against Cleveland Thursday night, it looks like Sheffield's swing is back.

"You know how I know I'm fine?" Sheffield said. "I don't even think about the wrist. I haven't been thinking about it unless somebody asks me about it. That tells me I'm good to go."

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A torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his left wrist limited Sheffield to 39 games for the Yankees last year after he played in at least 130 games each of the previous 10 seasons and had driven in 100 or more runs in six of the previous seven seasons.

The Tigers picked up the 38-year-old slugger in an attempt to add more power to their lineup. Some viewed the transaction as a gamble, but so far this spring Sheffield looks like he's back, and he should give the Tigers one of the more potent designated hitters in the game.

After a 4-for-23 start to the Grapefruit League season, Sheffield is 4-for-12 with five walks in his last five games.

"I'm where I need to be right now," Sheffield said. "I'm starting to come around with the timing, I've seen a lot of pitches, I'm being patient at the plate. I made some hard outs earlier, but overall it's been a typical spring for me."

The Tigers will take typical Sheffield in a heartbeat.

The lifetime .297 hitter has 455 career homers and has driven in 1,501 runs since breaking into the Major Leagues with Milwaukee in 1988.

"Coming in, the biggest thing for me [was] how my wrist would respond," Sheffield said. "I knew if everything was OK, I'd be fine. And it has been. The strength is there."

And so is that violent swing.

"My situation is just like this whole team really," Sheffield said. "Staying healthy is the key. If we stay healthy from this point, we're looking pretty good."

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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