What was supposed to be a banner rookie season has turned sour for 20-year-old Gary Sheffield - the Milwaukee Brewers' highly touted shortstop.

In late May, a frustrated Sheffield blasted the Brewer organization, criticizing the way the coaching staff handled him and veteran players treated him.He demanded to be traded within a month if things didn't change, only to retract that request a few days later after meeting with Brewer Manager Tom Trebelhorn and other team officials.

Then came a rash of errors and erratic play on the field. The coaching staff hoped the All-Star break might give the rookie a needed rest, but Sheffield returned Thursday and went 0-for-4 against the Chicago White Sox to extend his batting slump.

In his last 11 games, Sheffield, the nephew of New York Met pitcher Dwight Gooden, was 5 for 47, a .106 average. In 80 games this year, he hit .248 with four home runs and 29 RBI.

On Friday, just four months after many experts predicted he would be the American League's rookie of the year, Sheffield was sent down to the Brewers' Class AAA minor league affiliate at Denver.

"I still think he can be a big-league shortstop," Trebelhorn said. "He just hasn't been playing a big-league shortstop." Trebelhorn declined to discuss Sheffield's reaction. Asked whether the rookie would report to Denver, responded: "We'll find out."