Sheffield would play first to accommodate Abreu

Published August 2, 2006

NEW YORK - Gary Sheffield embraced Bobby Abreu's arrival with the Yankees, saying he would shift to first base if needed.

"I gave him a hug. I wanted him to feel welcome," Sheffield said Tuesday after Abreu reported to the Yankees, who acquired him in a trade with Philadelphia two days earlier.

Abreu was immediately inserted into the starting lineup, playing rightfield and batting fifth against Toronto. Sheffield, recovering from left wrist surgery in June, hopes to return in September. Leftfielder Hideki Matsui, who broke his left wrist in May, also hopes to return next month, and the Yankees could have four outfielders for three spots.

Manager Joe Torre revealed that he and hitting coach Don Mattingly, a former All-Star first baseman, have discussed for several months the possibility of shifting Sheffield from rightfield to first. Torre said he would have broached the subject with Sheffield in June if he hadn't gone on the disabled list.

"I talked to Sheff Sunday, before he left, and just told him that there's no guarantee that this makes him odd man out just because we got a rightfielder," Torre said. "We may just have to find some other thing to do. I didn't specifically say first base the other day, but we did today. He, Donnie and myself talked today. He's already working drills with Donnie."

BONSER GETS CALL: Gibbs High star Boof Bonser is expected to start tonight for Minnesota against Texas after left-hander Francisco Liriano was scratched because of inflammation in his elbow. Bonser was 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA in seven starts for Minnesota earlier this season. The Twins must make a roster move to make room for Bonser.

ORIOLES: Longtime minor-leaguer Winston Abreu was called up from Triple-A Ottawa, and right-hander Eddy Rodriguez was sent to the same club. Abreu becomes the 17th pitcher to join the bullpen this season. It's his first callup to the big leagues after 11 seasons in the minors. "I'm very happy," he said. "It's never too late."

RANGERS: Right-hander Scott Feldman was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma, and left-hander John Rheinecker was optioned to the RedHawks.

RED SOX: Jason Varitek was placed on the disabled list with a twisted left knee, leaving the team without its captain and catcher. Varitek left Monday night's 9-8 victory over the Indians in the bottom of the third inning, when his backup, Doug Mirabelli, pinch hit. An inning earlier, Varitek rounded second base, then walked gingerly back to the bag. He scored on Wily Mo Pena's triple and caught the top of the third.

ROYALS: Right-hander Scott Elarton, the team's opening day starter, had season-ending shoulder surgery to repair his labrum. "Everything went well," general manager Dayton Moore said. Dr. Richard Hawkins performed the surgery in Spartanburg, S.C. Hawkins operated on Elarton's shoulder in March 2002. Elarton missed that entire season.