If Major League Baseball punishes Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield for his confrontation with a fan at Fenway Park on Thursday, Sheffield will almost certainly appeal the decision.
Rufus Williams, Sheffield's agent and business manager, spoke with Sheffield on Friday and said that Sheffield would most likely contest a fine or suspension.
"I don't see why there would be any reason they would do that," Williams said. "If that should happen, I would suspect that absolutely he would."
In the eighth inning on Thursday, a fan in the front row behind the right-field wall swiped Sheffield in the face as Sheffield reached to pick up an extra-base hit by Boston's Jason Varitek. Sheffield gathered the ball and swung at the fan with his glove and his bare hand.
After throwing the ball to the cutoff man, Sheffield charged the fan, Chris House of Dorchester, Massachusetts, but stopped short of going into the stands. Baseball's disciplinarian, Bob Watson, began an investigation Friday into the confrontation.
"All I can say is we're going to be fair and just," said Watson, adding that he hoped to reach a decision early next week.
Watson received video of the incident, and investigators have begun interviewing fans who were in the right-field corner. Kevin Hallinan, baseball's director of security, watched the video on Friday and interviewed Sheffield before the Yankees' game with the Orioles.
Hallinan and his chief investigator, George Hanna, met for more than 20 minutes in the visiting manager's office with Sheffield and manager Joe Torre. Hallinan, who said he was gathering information for Watson, seemed impressed with Sheffield's restraint.
Hallinan said Sheffield had learned from baseball's annual security meeting in which players are warned about such confrontations.
"Gary, in our discussion, certainly recalled what went on in spring training," Hallinan said. "We were pleased about that, that our training helped him."
Sheffield said he spoke with the Yankees president, Randy Levine, General Manager Brian Cashman and Williams and was advised not to comment on the altercation. But Sheffield spoke nonetheless with reporters for several minutes.
"You've got to look at the tape and pass your own judgment," Sheffield said. "I can't sit here and try to convince you one way or the other. I can just only go out here and try to play a baseball game and hope nothing happens."
The Yankees principal owner, George Steinbrenner, issued a statement through a spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, saying that the matter was in the hands of Commissioner Bud Selig.
Hallinan said he would not interview House because he did not want to get in the way of the Boston Police Department. The Yankees would not say if they planned to press charges against House.
"That's for someone else to decide," Torre said, and then referred to fans generally. "But they have to be made aware their place is in the stands."
After reviewing replays, Torre said he would be surprised if Sheffield were disciplined. He said Sheffield had been clearly provoked.
"He wasn't going for the ball," Torre said, referring to the fan. "If you're going for the ball, you're going to bend over and reach with two hands. You're not going to swing your hands like that just to get a ball. There's no doubt in my mind it was on purpose. He knew what he wanted to do."
Jodi Ingerbritson, House's fiancee, told The Boston Herald that House was a season-ticket holder who was not trying to harm Sheffield.
"He just said he was going for the ball," she said.
Like Torre, Yankees players disputed that notion, as well as the assertion that House was merely waving his arms as a third-base coach would because two runs were scoring on the play.
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