LAKELAND, Fla. — Gary Sheffield’s milestone 500th career home run will have to come with a different team. The Tigers released the longtime slugger on Tuesday, a surprising roster move and a potential end to what may ultimately be a Hall of Fame career.
Sheffield said he was told by manager Jim Leyland and president/general manager Dave Dombrowski that the team wanted to go with a more versatile lineup. The Tigers did not envision Sheffield playing any position other than designated hitter.
The Tigers will owe Sheffield his guaranteed $14 million salary for this year. If he clears waivers, he’ll be free to sign with any team he chooses.
Sheffield, who has 499 career home runs, said he was surprised by the move and that he didn’t consider it a possibility.
“I never really thought about it, to be honest with you,” he said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.