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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: SHEFFIELD'S CONCESSION COULD FACILITATE A TRADE MOVE SHOULD GIVE DODGERS MORE NEGOTIATING LEVERAGE.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

VERO BEACH, Fla. - During a pre-workout meeting in the corner of the clubhouse, embattled left fielder Gary Sheffield finally gave the Dodgers some leverage.

Sheffield said his preference remains to be traded to the Yankees, Mets or Atlanta Braves, but he told general manager Kevin Malone he'll consider waiving his right to demand a trade next offseason if he's sent to one of six other teams.

``Right now, everybody always asks me, do you have to go to a winning team?'' Sheffield said Wednesday. ``Not necessarily. I just want to find the best situation for Gary Sheffield. It's one of those situations where if I'm in a good situation ... eventually I think if I'm on a team, I'll help that team get better.

Sheffield broached the subject of teams besides the Mets, Yankees and Braves earlier in the week when he said he would consider playing for Cincinnati, Texas or the Chicago Cubs. Sheffield added St. Louis, Kansas City and Tampa Bay to those three teams, a source said, giving him nine total.

``The situation has to be right,'' Sheffield said. ``If I go to those teams, I can demand a trade after the end of the year, and I want to know where their head is at, and that way they can know where my head is at.''

Though Malone has little leverage, he acknowledged Sheffield's potential willingness to add teams could help in getting a deal done. And the Dodgers have another piece of leverage, though it's deep-rooted.

As a player traded in the middle of a multiyear deal, Sheffield can demand a trade in his first offseason with his new club. However, if Sheffield requests a trade from his new team (providing the Dodgers trade him) and is dealt, he loses two years of free agency after his contract expires in 2004. Instead, he'd be eligible for salary arbitration. He wouldn't be a free agent again until after the 2006 season, when he's 37.

``The more teams that are involved, the better options we should have,'' Malone said. ``I think with the increased interest, we'll see increased and improved and hopefully satisfactory offers.''

Cincinnati general manager Jim Bowden was the first to call when news of Sheffield's plight broke Feb. 18, and he spoke with Malone again this week. The Reds, originally on Sheffield's no-trade list, talked about including Pokey Reese and Dmitri Young in a deal, but sources said the Dodgers want more. If the Reds are involved in a deal, it's likely to be a three-team trade in which the Dodgers get a power-hitting left fielder and the Reds acquire prospects, a baseball official said.

By adding Tampa Bay to his ``maybe'' list, Sheffield, who lives in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, could facilitate a trade for Devil Rays left fielder Greg Vaughn. Devils Rays general manager Chuck LaMar is actively pursuing a deal, sources said, though the Dodgers are unsure about Vaughn. Also, talks continue with the Atlanta Braves, who are offering Brian Jordan and a minor-league pitcher.

``I doubt very little I wouldn't like what they had to say,'' said Sheffield, who said a contract extension is not a prerequisite for a deal. ``If I go to those teams, they would tell me if I'm going to be there three years or going to be there longer. I would know that going in, so I'd be prepared for that.''

Ideally, Sheffield wants to play for the Mets, Yankees or Braves, and he'll waive his right to demand a trade for those team. But this soap opera has taken its toll on him.

Sheffield, who previously said Dodgers chairman Bob Daly lied about the saga, said he forgave him. However, Sheffield is 0 for 7 in three spring games and said the ordeal is weighing on him.

``I'm upbeat until I have to go on the field,'' Sheffield said. ``I really have to put all that behind me where I can really think about what I'm doing out on the field. I haven't been able to do that yet, but eventually I will. It's just like going through getting a new contract. You're a little tense at first, but after you get that first hit, it's an uphill battle.''

And teams aren't clamoring to give the Dodgers a deal Malone finds fair. He's been rebuffed in requests for Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Bernie Williams, and the list is growing.

For now, Mets general manager Steve Phillips has pulled outfielder Jay Payton off the list of players he's willing to package to the Dodgers for Sheffield, baseball officials said.

Asked about Payton being pulled back, Sheffield joked, ``That just tells me I'm a bad player.''

--Odds and ends: The Dodgers are trying to finalize the deferred payment for Marquis Grissom, but they haven't agreed on a figure. It will be at least $2.5 million (he's owed $10 million over the next two seasons).

DODGERS vs. MONTREAL

Time: 10:05 a.m., at Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Fla.

Radio: 1150-AM (tape delay at 5:05 p.m.)

Matchup: Dodgers ace Kevin Brown makes the 70-mile trek south to face the Expos. He pitched two scoreless innings in his first outing. RH Hideki Irabu starts for Montreal.

Wednesday's result: Dodgers right-hander Ramon Martinez allowed three runs in three shaky innings as the Florida Marlins won 4-2 at Holman Stadium.

-Brian Dohn

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo: Dodgers outfielders Brent Cookson, left, and Gary Sheffield jog during morning workouts at Vero Beach. Sheffield said he might drop certain demands if he's traded to a team on his OK list.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Box: DODGERS vs. MONTREAL (see text)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 8, 2001
Words:952
Previous Article:WISE UP OR BE ODOM MAN OUT.
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