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Up to Bat: Gary Sheffield on Short Tempers, Steroids

On Monday, when the American League Champion Detroit Tigers open their 2007 season, a powerful new batter will be in the lineup. Gary Sheffield is starting his 20th Major League Baseball season, with his seventh club.

Sheffield is a great player who bears the reputation of a malcontent. In his new book, Inside Power, Sheffield says he doesn't deserve that label.

But he does recount an event when he was 12 years old that illustrates where he got a reputation for a fiery temper.

The year before, his Little League team had gone to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn., and lost to Taiwan. Sheffield would have returned the next year, but he was thrown off the team instead — for brandishing a bat at the coach.

Sheffield tells Robert Siegel that the incident "drove him for the rest of his life."

"I have a lot of fire burning within me, but I do it with control," Sheffield says, referring to his 20-year baseball career.

Sheffield, who trained with controversial player Barry Bonds, denies allegations in the book Game of Shadows, by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, that he paid $10,000 for steroid cream.

"If you show me where I paid $10,000, then I'll show you a magic trick," Sheffield says.

"Only thing I paid for is to let someone train me. You talk about paying for cream or something else, you got the wrong guy," he says.

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