Thursday, February 21, 2008
Sheffield says former agent Boras is a 'bad person'
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Gary Sheffield put himself in the spotlight again, and the Detroit Tigers' slugger enjoyed every second of it.
"My family has been trying to get me to walk away for a while now because they don't like the negative stuff that comes my way. I love it," Sheffield acknowledged. "I try to explain it to them, but they think that's some psychotic thing."
Sheffield stirred things up Thursday morning by calling Scott Boras, his former agent, a "bad person," in part for going after money the All-Star says he doesn't deserve.
The dispute stems from the $39 million, three-year contract Sheffield signed in 2003 with the New York Yankees.
Sheffield declined to comment on the specifics of the grievance, but the designated hitter has said he represented himself in negotiating his contract with the Yankees. Boras has said Sheffield agreed to let him represent the outfielder when his contract with the Atlanta Braves ran out in 2003.
Sheffield vowed to say a lot of "ugly things" about various topics when the case is resolved.
"It ain't going to be pretty," he said. "No fine is going to be big enough. No suspension is going to be long enough."
Boras declined to say anything about the situation.
"I'm not going to comment on Gary's comments," Boras said.
Sheffield said he has given a deposition each year since the grievance was filed; Feb. 28 or so is the next one scheduled.
"Nothing happens. Then, he comes back, `I want some more money.' That's basically the way he's acting," Sheffield said. "I don't know why. It's probably personal with him. But when it's done, it's going to be personal with me."
Sheffield is known for saying what's on his mind.
Last year, he called the investigation into steroid use in baseball a "witch hunt" that was all about "getting" Barry Bonds. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Sheffield testified in 2003 before the grand jury that he didn't knowingly take steroids while working out with Bonds.
Sheffield also has said Joe Torre, his former manager in New York, treated black and white players differently.
He paused only briefly when talking about the latest story involving him.
"Actually, I'm not supposed to be talking about this at all," Sheffield said. "But I am anyway."
Sheffield fired agent Jim Neader and hired Boras in the spring of 2001, when he created a stir while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers by demanding a contract extension or a trade. He had $30 million and three years left on his deal plus an $11 million club option.
"I've known Gary since he was 15 years old, and I know he's a good person," Boras said then.
Sheffield went to play for the Braves in 2002 and 2003. He fired Boras in 2003, saying he planned to represent himself in the future.
Several months later, Sheffield signed with the Yankees and said he negotiated the contract with owner George Steinbrenner. Boras later filed paperwork requesting 5 percent of the $39 million deal.
Sheffield has said his problems with Boras cost him a longer contract when he became a free agent.
"Can you explain why [Miguel] Tejada gets six years, [Vladimir] Guerrero gets five years and I get three? He cost me two years of a contract because he was trying to tarnish my name," Sheffield said in 2004. "The whole year in Atlanta, I had to get the players' association to stop him from writing me threatening letters saying, 'Either you let me do your contract or I'll be forced to sue you.' That's a threat and harassment."
Yankees star Alex Rodriguez said earlier this week he still hasn't spoken with Boras since negotiating his new contract this offseason without his longtime agent.
"Do you blame him?" Sheffield asked.
Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers fired Boras this winter after the agent tried to shop Rogers' services, even though the pitcher only wanted to negotiate with Detroit.
Boras does appear to have happy clients in Detroit, including reigning American League batting champion Magglio Ordonez, All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez and first-round pick Rick Porcello.
Sheffield said he is going to warn everybody about Boras when their dispute is resolved.
"It's going to be the ugliest thing you've ever seen because certain people you don't mess with," he said. "And I guarantee you, I'm one of them."
Sheffield said he will tell players to hire whom they want, but will share his experience as one of Boras' clients.
"Total hell," he said. "I shouldn't have ever introduced myself to him. Period. Bad person."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is a fan of Sheffield both as a person and a player, who is 20 homers away from the 500th of his career. Leyland made a point of watching Sheffield hit during Thursday's workout and was encouraged with the way the slugger has recovered from shoulder surgery.
"I'm really pleased with what I see," Leyland said. "You can tell there's no restrictions as far as swinging."