A-Rod, Sheffield share weekly honor
Former teammates generate big offense for Yanks, Tigers
Last season, Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez shared the same field in New York. This week, they're taking home the same American League award.
On Monday, Sheffield and Rodriguez were named the Bank of America Presents the AL Co-Players of the Week for the period of June 4-10, 2007.
Sheffield was Rodriguez's teammate last season in New York but signed with the Tigers as a free agent during the offseason. So far this year, he has been everything Detroit was hoping for. The 39-year-old is hitting .281 and ranks third in the AL in home runs (17) and 10th in RBIs (43).
The nine-time All-Star finished the week batting .417 with four home runs and 11 RBIs over six games, and, on the way added another milestone to an already illustrious career.
On Wednesday, Sheffield singled off Rangers starter Kevin Millwood to give him 1,539 career RBIs and put him into a tie with Tigers Hall of Famer Harry Heillman for 40th on the all-time list. One day and two RBIs later, he passed Hall of Famer Willie Stargell for 39th all-time.
Sheffield said Stargell was one of his childhood heroes, and passing him had a special feeling to it.
"Every team I'm on, I try to learn the history of the organization, to give those guys their proper respect," Sheffield said. "The ones that I do know well, like Stargell, that's when it really means something to me."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said earlier this week that while Sheffield continues to pile up personal accolades late in his career, he's never done so at the cost of his teammates.
"Obviously, he's been a great player," Leyland said. "And I think it's OK to want to have numbers, as long as it's within the team concept.
"Gary Sheffield, for sure, always plays within the parameters of the team. He breaks up double plays, he steals bases. I don't have a problem with players wanting to have big numbers. That's what gets you into the Hall of Fame. Now, if you're doing it at the expense of not doing what it takes to win games, that's different."
Sheffield's former Yankees teammate had an equally impressive week. In seven games, Rodriguez posted a .400 batting average with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
It marks the second time this season Rodriguez has taken home Player of the Week honors. He was also a co-winner during the first week of the season with Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero.
Prior to June 3, Rodriguez had gone through a seven-game stretch without hitting a home run, but he's now hit five over his last eight games. Rodriguez says a lineup change that has him hitting behind Yankees right-fielder Bobby Abreu is one of the main reasons he has felt so comfortable at the plate recently.
"I love hitting behind him because you get to see so many pitches," Rodriguez said. "He seems to be in a groove. He seems to be relaxed, and that's good for us."
Rodriguez, who also hit two doubles and scored seven runs over the seven-game span, is now hitting .304 with a Major League-best 24 home runs and 63 RBIs this season.
Other players receiving consideration were Abreu (.500 average, three doubles, one home run, and nine RBIs), Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia (1-2, 0.00 ERA, 18 innings pitched) and Red Sox righty Curt Schilling (1-0, 0.00 ERA, nine innings pitched), who came within one out of recording the first no-hitter of his career Thursday against the Athletics.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.