MOOSIC — Justus Sheffield has been here before.
As a top pitching prospect for a team in the middle of a heated playoff race, seeing your name pop up in trade talks is part of the territory.
Even though Sheffield tries his best to avoid the rumors, he is human. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starting pitcher sees reports involving him on social media.
But despite his name being brought up in recent New York Yankees trade rumors for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, all Sheffield can do is focus on his work at the park, which includes his next outing — at Nationals Park in Sunday’s Futures Game.
“I try not to pay attention to it at all,” Sheffield said. “Obviously I can see it with notifications and stuff on my Twitter and things like that, but I’ve been through it every year this time of year. It seems to be every team that I’ve played for, we’re contenders to make a playoff run and that’s when the talks start coming on, when there’s a couple weeks left til the deadline. I’m kind of used to it.”
For Sheffield, though, it’s best for him to just stay away from the rumors all together. Because sometimes, that’s exactly what they are. Just rumors.
However, seeing his name in trade rumors does brings some pride to Sheffield. It means he’s doing something right.
“You can’t believe everything you read, but who knows. I think it’s pretty easy for me to just keep it away and not distract me,” Sheffield said. “It’s pretty cool to know that other teams are out there that want you and want you to be a part of their organization, but you never know what can happen. I just have to go out there and do my thing on the field. I’ve been through it before. I would be surprised, wouldn’t be surprised. It’s one of those things.”
As his manager, Bobby Mitchell figures that it’s best not to even address the rumors with Sheffield, or any of his other players.
Because of social media, Mitchell knows that his players are likely aware when their name is brought up in reports. But at the end of the day, everything’s out of their control.
“I’m sure (RailRiders pitching coach Tommy Phelps) mentions it to him — that same scenario where you can’t control it,” Mitchell said. “Just go out and pitch the way you can pitch, and that’s the main thing. Go out there and perform and just see what happens.”
At the end of the day, Sheffield’s going to keep grinding.
His goal from Day 1 has been to make the majors with the New York Yankees this season. And reports have surfaced of late that the big-league club would like to add a starting pitcher or two before the July 31 trade deadline.
If Sheffield could have it his way, one of those starting pitchers would be him, and he’d be ready.
But only time will tell.
“Of course. Yeah, I really do believe that I could go up there and, you know, help if they need me. But then again, I’m not the GM and can’t make those moves,” Sheffield said. “I just have to keep doing me. I know it sounds — it’s cliche, I say it all the time — but I have to keep doing me, go out there and do what I can control and that’s it. If I get the opportunity to go up there, I’m definitely going to take the best of that. If not, I’m just going to continue to work and get better every day.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle