Who out there is pretty certain Fernando Tatis’ 2008 was a fluke and Ryan Church is unlikely to repeat his early ’08 production?  OMAR, PUT YOUR HAND DOWN.   Newsday’s David Lennon reports rather than accept what’s being called a reduced role in Cincinnati, Gary Sheffield might return to New York.

The Mets have contacted Gary Sheffield directly to gauge his interest in coming to New York and a person familiar with the situation said today that he could sign with a club as soon as tonight. Sheffield worked out yesterday at a college field in Tampa, as first reported by SI.com, and the Mets are considered to be his first choice, with the Phillies and Reds also showing interest.

œHe wants the Mets to know he™s still hungry, the person said, œand he has goals.

Sheffield, 41, is sitting on 499 home runs, which means Citi Field could host a significant historical milestone within the first week of the stadium™s existence. He also wants to reach 3,000 hits, but is much further away from that mark at 2,615. Sheffield also has indicated that he wants to play beyond this season, a motivating factor that should work in the Mets™ favor.

There is an instant Mets connection as well. Sheffield is the nephew of Dwight Gooden, who is expected to be in attendance for the Citi Field opener on April 13.

On the surface, Sheffield appears to be a good fit for the Mets as a right-handed slugger capable of providing power off the bench. If they did sign Sheffield, Marlon Anderson is the most obvious roster casualty. Eating his $1.15-million salary is made more palatable by the fact that Sheffield is only due the major-league minimum of $400,000. The Tigers released him earlier this week despite owing him $14 million for this season.