As the Yankees segue from Mariano Rivera’s struggles Tuesday night against the Orioles to a reunion with Gary Sheffield and the Tigers tonight, the New York Times’ Jack Curry quizzes Sheff prior to his first game back in the Bronx.

If Gary Sheffield has such strong feelings about how Joe Torre treated him, it would seem the type of material that he would have included in his recent book. Sheffield criticized Torre for singling him out in team meetings in œInside Power, but there is nothing in its 233 pages about Torre favoring white players over black players. Why not?

œBecause that ain™t what my book was about, Sheffield said. œMy book was about other things.

Sheffield said he did not consider Torre a racist, nor is he one. He said anyone who called a black person a racist was making œprobably the most ignorant statement ever.

œMost black people are not racist, Sheffield said. œWe got a lot to be mad about. We got a lot to say and so forth. We just don™t.

But Sheffield acknowledged that he does say a lot. Sheffield said that the œreal Sheffield fans would probably salute him at the stadium. Those fans will remember how Sheffield averaged 35 home runs and 122 runs batted in for his first two seasons in New York. He said if some fans berated him during the four-game series, it would be œirrelevant.

When Sheffield was asked if he would shake Torre™s hand if he saw him today, he said, œI don™t think I ever shook his hand when I was there.

Then Sheffield said, œAsk him that question.

When Torre was asked, he said, œProbably not.