Sheffield scratched from Mets' lineup

Sheffield scratched from Mets' lineup

NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield was scratched from the Mets' lineup for Thursday's rubber game with the Braves, and the rumor mill was buzzing as a result.

"It's just the best thing for the day," Sheffield said.

There are reports that Sheffield had spoken to the Mets about the possibility of a contract extension and was turned down. One Mets player said he heard that Sheffield was "gone" because he had been claimed off waivers. But Sheffield was placed on waivers earlier in August and was pulled back by the Mets after another team claimed him. The Mets, then, can no longer trade the veteran outfielder; they can only grant him his release.

But according to SI.com, Sheffield requested his release after he was denied a contract extension from general manager Omar Minaya, and he was turned down for that, too.

After batting practice, Sheffield returned to the clubhouse and said, "I'm still here."

Manager Jerry Manuel said Sheffield just needed a break.

"He asked for a day off to clear some thoughts and things," Manuel said. "It would do him good both physically and mentally to take a day."

Cory Sullivan started in left field in Sheffield's place, with Daniel Murphy moving up to the third slot in the batting order.

With the Tigers accountable for most of Sheffield's $14 million salary this season, the Mets are paying the slugger $400,000, so releasing him would cost a little more than $100,000. Sheffield is eligible to be a free agent after this season.

Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.