10/04/2003 3:04 PM ET
Sheffield hopes to start Sunday
CHICAGO -- Gary Sheffield did not play in Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Braves and the Cubs, but he is hopeful that he will be able to start the series finale on Sunday in Atlanta.
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
"I'd say there's a 50-50 chance because I know me and I know how much these guys stuck it out and battled to get it to this game," Sheffield said after the Braves' 6-4 win in Game 4. "I can't let them down after that."
After Saturday night's game, manager Bobby Cox was still unsure whether he would be able to play Sheffield on Sunday.
"I haven't talked to him since this morning," Cox said in his postgame news conference. "They worked on him the entire ballgame inside, and I just can't answer that right now."
Chipper Jones, batting in the No. 3 spot in place of Sheffield, hit a pair of two-run homers to pace Atlanta, kick-starting an offense that had suffered a power drain over the series' first three games.
"I was upset when I was sitting on the bench," Sheffield said. "I don't like taking days off, period. And to miss a playoff series game, with elimination at the door, it was probably the worst thing I've ever had to go through. When we got those runs early and we got the lead, I felt a little better. But just watching it, was nerve-wracking. "
Sheffield was hit on the outside off his hand with a pitch from Chicago's Mark Prior in the sixth inning of Game 3 on Friday. He remained in the game, but played in significant pain. X-rays revealed no break, but he is extremely sore.
"I put faith in God, but I have faith in my teammates also," Sheffield said. "All during the season when Chipper was out of the lineup or [I was], this team found ways to win games. We have capable guys that can come in, get the job done and pull it out.
"If I can pinch hit, I can play. That's the way I feel. I don't know how I stayed in the game [Friday]. After I got back to the hotel, the pain was so excruciating that I said 'How did I take that last at-bat?' But it was just an adrenaline rush from seeing a packed house at Wrigley Field. Anything is possible when you see anything like that."
Darren Bragg started in right field for the Braves on Saturday, batting eighth. He would likely get the call again in the fifth game if Sheffield can't play. Bragg batted .241 with a .305 on-base percentage and .284 slugging percentage. That pales in comparison to Sheffield, an MVP candidate who hit .330 with a .419 OBP and .604 SLG. Sheffield ripped 39 homers and 37 doubles.
Sheffield is 0-for-3 in his career against Sunday Cubs starter Kerry Wood. Bragg has never faced Wood.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.