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News » Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-04-29

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-04-29

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2008-04-29
The questions are starting to come about whether Gary Sheffield is washed up or not.

Detroit's designated hitter is 0-for-11 since coming back from rest and having his shoulders shot up with cortisone. Overall, he is hitless in his last 16 at-bats and has no hits in his last 16 chances with runners in scoring position.

"I still think he's one of the most feared and respected hitters," manager Jim Leyland said. "I still think they pitch him as good as anyone. The other thing is I think it's too early to decide if he's going to hit."

For a little historical perspective, Sheffield, batting .159 with one home run and three RBIs, was batting .193 a year ago at this stage of the season with one home run and six RBIs. He ended up batting .265 with 25 home runs and 75 RBIs despite being relatively ineffective from late July on because of injury.

"If a guy's stumbling, normally you just get him out of there," Leyland said. "But I think there are some pitchers to this day that pitch Sheffield tougher than anybody on our team. If he continues to struggle, that won't continue to happen.

"I like the fact there don't seem to be any restrictions in his shoulder when he swings. We still don't know if we're seeing the real Gary Sheffield. But we're going to find out.

"Do I think he'll hit like the Gary Sheffield of old? I doubt it. Do I think he'll hit enough to be a productive hitter in our lineup? Yes, I do. He's had shoulder surgeries. He's older (39)."

As for taking Sheffield out of the third spot, Leyland notes he still draws walks and respect (even if second baseman Placido Polanco was walked intentionally so the Angels could pitch to Sheffield last Saturday).

Still, it could be that age will catch up to Sheffield this season.

"Gary Sheffield would be the first guy to come in this office and tell me if he felt he couldn't help the team," Leyland said. "He won't play for his own stats. If he feels like he's not the Gary Sheffield he wants to be, he'll tell me. I don't expect that will happen. But I can't argue that he's not hitting."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 29, 2008

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