Gary Sheffield could return to the Detroit Tigers lineup tonight, following an examination and subsequent treatment of both his shoulders, but despite doctors finding no structural damage to the right shoulder which went under the knife in the off-season, stories coming out of his rest and recovery don't sound so good.
From Jason Beck's report at MLB.com:
Sheffield received a second shot in his right shoulder on Wednesday after getting one in each shoulder earlier this week. This one was more focused on the spot where he had labrum tears surgically repaired last fall.
He's hoping this shot finally allows him to swing a bat pain-free and return to the Tigers lineup, possibly by Friday, but the lack of progress is enough that he's considering the worst-case scenarios.
When you read that the man can't even cross his arms without feeling pain, that he's taking cortisone shots like some of us take B-12 (save your Roger Clemens jokes), or that retirement is sounding like a more appealing option each day, you can't help but wonder just how long Sheffield is going to put himself through this.
Now maybe this seems more dire because Sheffield is so forthcoming with the media, and just says exactly what's on his mind as he's thinking it. So if he's feeling disheartened about the pain and restricted movement that he's been experiencing, he'll say so. Sheffield doesn't couch anything in cliches or pat statements. We have to also consider that he's still due to be paid $28 million over this season and next, and doesn't seem likely to walk away from that - especially if the Tigers have a shot at a World Series championship. Or maybe he's put in enough time and made enough money at this point.
Another question worth asking is why the Tigers don't just put Sheffield on the disabled list and require him to rest, rather than let someone who can't play take up a roster spot. Or is the shoulder in such a state that it really wouldn't matter?