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Sheffield Leaves Dodgers

Gary Sheffield, who is considering retirement, has left the Los Angeles Dodgers for a few days to take care of some personal business.

But the team said Monday that Sheffield had planned the trip more than a month ago, before he said he might end his career.

"The Dodgers have known about this since before spring training," said John Olguin, a team spokesman.

Whether the 30-year-old outfielder stays in baseball after that is another matter.

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Sheffield told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that he was thinking about retiring because of shoulder problems and scrutiny about his performance.

In the second year of a six-year, $61 million contract, Sheffield came to the Dodgers last May from the Florida Marlins in the Mike Piazza trade.

Piazza later went to the New York Mets, and Sheffield is the lone player from the trade still with the Dodgers.

"To be honest with you, if I still didn't have five years left, and if not for the trade, I would retire right now," Sheffield said.

Sheffield, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason to repair tendon damage.

"Just the grind of everything, every day, has been (wearing) on me, and you can only take but so much," Sheffield said. "But you're supposed to honor things that you agree to, and that's what I'm trying to do, but it's hard."

Sheffield, switched from right to left field this year, began feeling increased pain in his right shoulder after a game Friday in which he went hitless in three at-bats. He received a cortisone shot in the shoulder Saturday.

Sheffield said team medical personnel told him the pain is unrelated to his recent surgery. He hopes to return to action soon, but expressed concern that his rehabilitation is not going well.

When told of Sheffield's comments, Dodger general manager Kevin Malone downplayed it, saying: "It's spring training, and you have some good days and some bad days.

"I think Gary is just going through a frustrating time over his shoulder not being where he wants it to be right now. I spent time with Gary (on Friday) and he said his shoulder felt a lot better. We walked together and talked together, and he never brought this up to me or Davey (Dodgers manager Davey Johnson)."

In an interview early this month, Sheffield said shifting positions didn't bother him -- even though he spent most of his 11-year major league career in right field. Raul Mndesi had moved from right to center field when Sheffield joined the team, and Mondesi went back to right this spring after the Dodgers acquired Devon White to play center.

He has apparently changed his mind.

"Obviously, I'm not comfortable," Sheffield said. "I'm fine with whatever makes Mondy happy because we need Mondy to be happy, and I'm a team player. Davey says I'm too hard on myself, that I'm too much of a perfectionist, but I just don't want to be embarrassed out there. If I'm embarrassed I can't do it, and I'll just say I can't do it."

Also, Sheffield was annoyed by the team's decision to again enforce dress codes and personal-grooming guidelines. They were relaxed last season to accommodate Sheffield after the trade.

"I'm tired of every decision always being around me," Sheffield said. "I just want to wear my facial hair and earrings and just play the game."

Sheffield was not singled out, Malone said: "Those are Dodger rules that we're just enforcing, they have nothing to do with any individual in particular."

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