Notes: Sheffield's appeal heard by MLB

Notes: Sheffield's appeal heard by MLB

NEW YORK -- Two months after being suspended for bumping an umpire, Gary Sheffield finally had his day in court.

Sheffield, who was suspended for two games for a June 26 confrontation with umpire C.B. Bucknor, met with Major League Baseball on Friday to appeal the disciplinary action and tell his side of the story.

"I stated what I did, they stated what they felt that they saw," said Sheffield, who watched the tape with MLB officials. "It didn't show much, so hopefully it turns out in my favor."

Sheffield has a shot at having the suspension reduced or even overturned, as Washington outfielder Marlon Byrd had a two-game suspension overturned late last month.

In the June 26 game against the Mets, Sheffield threw his batting helmet to the ground after being called out by Bucknor at first, prompting the ump to eject him immediately. Sheffield went on to argue face-to-face with Bucknor, something he said he would not have done had he not been ejected.

Sheffield was suspended two games and fined $2,000 for his actions in the seventh inning of the game against the Mets, as Bob Watson, MLB's vice president of on-field operations determined that Sheffield had made contact with Bucknor.

Sheffield said after watching the tape of the incident that he still believes he didn't make contact with Bucknor.

"I said what I had to say; I'm just waiting on the decision," Sheffield said. "I'm not going to speculate on what's going to happen. I just hope I'm not going to be suspended at all, because if I'm swinging good or not, I have to get in the lineup and try to make some kind of difference with this ballclub."

Sheffield made a difference on Thursday, belting a three-run homer in the first to snap an 0-for-12 slump. Sheffield has been playing all week while worrying about the legal issues involving his uncle, Dwight Gooden.

Sheffield did not address Gooden's situation on Friday, simply issuing a statement through a team spokesperson.

"My prayers are with my uncle," he said. "I pray that he will seek and receive the help he so desperately needs."

When asked about his performance at the plate this week, Sheffield said he was more interested in helping the Yankees win than his personal numbers.

"I feel fine. I just have to maintain my focus and not lose sight of that," he said. "This is my safety net, this is what I know. Whatever I deal with, I have to go out and play hard."

"He loves the game, loves the competition and loves his teammates," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "He's uncomfortable with everything that's happening with his uncle; it's no fun for him, it's an emotional roller coaster."

Ruben to rehab: Ruben Sierra will head to Columbus on Saturday to play in the first of two rehab games with the Triple-A Clippers.

Sierra has been on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring since July 19, but he could return to action with the Yankees as early as Monday.

"I don't want to get too excited," Sierra said. "I want to see how I feel today, and hopefully everything is going to go well so I can help the team."

Torre said that Sierra will likely serve as a pinch-hitter when he returns, though the manager wants to be able to use him as a designated hitter as well.

"I just need for him not to have to come out of the game for pinch-runners," Torre said. "I need his bat, and as long as he doesn't push it, he can continue to improve."

Sierra estimated that he is currently at 80 percent strength, and he hopes to keep improving a little bit every day.

"I don't want to push it that hard," he said. "I want to take it little by little. I'm getting close. I just don't want to push it and be stupid."

Rally tee: Two years ago, the Red Sox rallied themselves in the regular season with the phrase, "Cowboy Up" which appeared on T-shirts worn by every player in the final months of the year.

Jorge Posada created his own rallying cry for the 2005 Yankees, distributing shirts to his teammates on Friday that read, "Grind it."

The back of the shirts read, "There is no trying. There is only doing or not doing."

Posada handed the shirts out in the clubhouse before Friday night's game.

Kind words: Shawn Chacon has been a big lift for the Yankees' pitching staff since being acquired from the Rockies in late-July. Royals manager Buddy Bell, who managed Chacon in Colorado, isn't surprised.

"I think this is a great opportunity for him," Bell said. "He's a tough kid, he's got good stuff. I know in Colorado they weren't quite sure what role he was going to fill, and I think that was a compliment to him; he can do a lot of things for you.

"One thing I knew about Shawn, was that every time he went out for us in Colorado, you were going to get as much as he had on that particular day."

Bell believes that Chacon has the perfect makeup to succeed in the pressure cooker that is Yankee Stadium.

"It's a great place for him, because he doesn't back down from the environment or anything like that," Bell said. "He's going to learn a lot here. I'm just happy for the kid. He deserves to be in a situation like this. It's up to him what he does with it and my money's on him."

On deck: The Yankees and Royals play the second of three weekend games on Saturday, as Jaret Wright (4-2, 6.00 ERA) takes on J.P. Howell (1-4, 7.68 ERA).

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