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Sheffield suddenly drops trade request

VERO BEACH, Fla. — As the latest word about Gary Sheffield spread at Dodgertown, a shifting wind blew through camp.

Palm trees cover the training complex, and their leaves swirled in all different directions — just like the Sheffield saga.

Sheffield abruptly dropped his trade request Saturday, adding yet another twist to his strange spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Gary no longer wants to be traded. He has rescinded that," agent Jim Neader said. "He says he will honor the terms of his contract and just go out and play."

Sheffield left the clubhouse before his newest stance became known. The disgruntled slugger did not play in a 5-3 win over Kansas City, leaving him at 0-for-9 in exhibition games.

A day earlier, Sheffield said: "Nothing new happening right now."

The star outfielder "thought about it, talked to his teammates and came to this decision," Neader said.

Asked whether he had informed the Dodgers' front office of Sheffield's position, Neader said, "I told Kevin Malone."

But Malone, the Dodgers' general manager, said he had not yet spoken to Neader.

"All I'm hearing is secondhand that Gary has rescinded his trade demand," Malone said. "I haven't heard it myself."

"We're going to keep all our options open," he said. "But I think all along Gary wanted to be a lifetime Dodger."

Outfielder Marquis Grissom liked this latest development.

"I hope he's here," he said. "The numbers speak for themselves. You can't replace those.

"I can talk to him as a friend, but I can't make up his mind for him. Only he can do that," he said. "We're in this as a team. We don't want the fans against us."

Sheffield has heard boos this month at tiny Holman Stadium, usually one of the most friendly spots in all of spring training.

He hit .325 with 43 home runs and 109 RBIs last season.

Before the start of camp, Sheffield asked for either a contract extension or a trade. He is owed a total of $30 million in the next three years, with a club option for 2004 at $11 million.

When the Dodgers said they would not extend his deal, Sheffield said he wanted to be traded to the New York Mets, New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves.

After no deal was reached, Sheffield told Malone this week that he would like to go to one of six other teams — St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay, Kansas City or Texas.

Several teams were believed to be talking to the Dodgers about a possible trade for Sheffield. The Mets, who said Thursday that they were dropping their interest in him, were thought to be still interested.