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Sheffield will honor his contract

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Gary Sheffield had been thinking about it for days. Teammates had talked to him. So had his friends. So Saturday morning he woke up and decided there was only one thing to do.

"I'm going to honor my contract and play it out this season with the Dodgers," Sheffield said. "I feel that I owe it to my teammates and I owe it to all my fans – especially the loyal ones who always cheer me – to end this thing right now.

"My goal hasn't changed. I still want to be a lifetime Dodger. I'd like to move to Los Angeles permanently and move both my parents and my wife's parents and make it our home. But right now, the extension and lifetime contract isn't going anyway.

"I've had a lot of teammates talk to me, and the feeling is that even with some of the injuries, we have a lot going for us here and I don't want to disrupt it. If it has been a disruption, then I will apologize to them. I want to apologize to the fans if they didn't understand what this was all about. I just want to get it behind me right now, and since my goal is to end my career as a Dodger, I'd rather try to work things out in time."

Sheffield had been in limbo at the start of spring training with his demand for an extension or trade. The Dodgers had rejected the contract demand and tried unsuccessfully to swing a deal with the Mets, Yankees or Braves – the three teams Sheffield stipulated he would accept a trade to. The Mets reportedly pulled out of trade talks Thursday.

On Wednesday, Sheffield told general manager Kevin Malone he would like to go to one of six other teams – St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay, Kansas City or Texas.

Sheffield, 32, originally approached the Dodgers about extending his current contract, which still has three years left at $10 million per year. He offered to defer up to 25 percent of the remaining contract, and even more on the extension, but right before spring training Dodgers president Robert Daly told Sheffield that he did not think such an extension made good business sense.

Sheffield then said he'd prefer to be traded, and a firefight between player and president has raged ever since.

"I always wanted to win as a Dodger," he said. "Maybe this will make it easier for that to happen this season."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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