PHOENIX -- If the Mets were anticipating having Gary Sheffield's potent bat back in the starting lineup on Monday night, they'll have to have to wait at least another day. Sheffield, who has been nursing a sore right hamstring, said he was going to take fly balls and do a bit of running with the hope of possibly being a late addition to the lineup at Chase Field against the D-backs. "You might as well be cautious," said Sheffield, who clearly seemed eager to play.
But after Jerry Manuel and Sheffield met for almost 50 minutes behind the closed doors of his office, the manager said that having Sheffield as a late lineup replacement wasn't going to happen -- at least not Monday night. "We're going to let him test it out today," Manuel said. "We want to make sure that he's healthy enough where [the injury] doesn't recur. We want to make sure that we get a good read on it. You don't want to gain one day and lose another week. We want him to press it and push it as much as he can." When asked if he might make a late lineup switch if Sheffield responds well, Manuel added: "No, no, no. I'm going to leave it the way it is. I'll let him test it and see how it feels [Tuesday]. See if he's sore. If he's not sore, then you feel like you're making some progress." Sheffield, 40, hasn't played much since he left a game at Atlanta on July 17 with a cramp in his right hamstring. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list two days later and reactivated on Aug. 3. Sheffield left the game last Wednesday at St. Louis and missed the just-concluded four-game series against the Padres in San Diego. "I'm feeling much better," Sheffield said. "I'm going to go out, take fly balls, hit and everything and see if I can go today. I'm sure I could, but it's just a matter of either taking the safer route or going all the way after it." With Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado on the disabled list, Sheffield would be a much-needed addition to the Mets' sagging offense. They are last in the 16-team National League with 68 home runs. Sheffield, who was released by Detroit at the end of Spring Training and signed by the Mets as a free agent, is hitting .286 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 79 games. The 10 homers are the most of anyone on the team. The fact that the two men met for such a length of time before batting practice was not a serious matter, Manuel said. Laughter could be heard behind the closed door and when it opened, Sheffield emerged with a big smile on his face. "We had a private conversation," Manuel said. "We go back to '97 with the Florida Marlins. His wife is a gospel singer. I like gospel music. We haven't had a chance to sit down and have a good conversation."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.