Sheffield gets a rest for series opener
Veteran power hitter adjusting to life with injured finger
CHICAGO -- Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield already was in line for a day off during this weekend's series against the White Sox. Once his ailing right ring finger swelled on the team flight from Boston early Friday morning, the decision for that day off came easily.
Though Sheffield said he could've played if needed, there was little reason to push matters on a cold, rainy night. Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave him the night off, but it wasn't expected to be a long-term issue.
Sheffield tore a tendon at the top of the finger on a slide into second base last week against the Royals. He missed the first two games of last weekend's series against the White Sox before returning to action on Sunday.
The swelling was not a surprise development.
"It's going to swell up on a plane," Sheffield said. "I've got it in a splint, and I had to take it off a few times, but that's not the reason I'm not playing. It's getting in late, trying to play through it and then the cold weather isn't helping at all."
It's not really a setback, but it's another frustrating development for a veteran player who is having an up-and-down time adjusting to life without feeling in the tip of his finger. He can hold the bat fine, and he's been able to swing hard.
"I'm starting to get a more aggressive swing than I normally would," Sheffield said. "I was kind of hesitant to hit balls, not swinging hard, but I like to swing hard to feel good about myself."
Still, it's the feeling that's the frustration.
"It ain't there," Sheffield said of the feeling in the finger. "That's what's frustrating more than anything. I don't know how much you use it on your bat, but I just know that it's something you feel. When I hold the bat or just walk around, I know it's there, and that right there just frustrates me a little bit. It's an agitating feeling, especially when it's cold, too."
Jacque Jones, who would've been starting in left field, moved to designated hitter in Sheffield's place. Clete Thomas started in left field and in the leadoff spot, while Carlos Guillen moved to the third spot in the order.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.