Ailing Sheffield in lineup at DH

Ailing Sheffield in lineup at DH

BALTIMORE -- Well aware of the fragility of 40-year-old muscles, the Mets eschewed caution this weekend when they told Gary Sheffield that an MRI exam on his sore right knee was not necessary. And so Sheffield remained in the lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday, taking advantage of one more series in an American League park.

"Obviously, he must have felt much better for them to say, 'He doesn't need this,'" Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of the MRI.

After Saturday's game against the Yankees, Sheffield complained of a soreness behind his right knee that had bothered him for the better part of two weeks. He said that an MRI was imminent, and Manuel discussed Sunday how the results of that test would help him determine whether or not Sheffield could play the outfield at Citi Field this weekend.

Yet no MRI was administered Monday, and both Sheffield and a Mets official said that nothing had been scheduled.

The pain, according to Manuel, had decreased significantly. And not coincidentally, Sheffield's production had increased. After batting .107 over his first eight games of June, Sheffield hit .462 with two home runs in three games against the Yankees.

Manuel said that Sheffield's time at designated hitter -- he didn't play the field at all last weekend -- had taken an immense amount of stress off him. Yet despite Sheffield's current health and current groove, Manuel is planning on giving him regular time off once the Mets return home to their National League park -- where defense is mandatory.

"I'll probably have to manage that a little differently than I have," Manuel said. "I have to be a little careful. I can't go too many days in a row, regardless of how hot he is."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.