TAMPA, Fla. -- A baseball player's locker is a sacred place -- the one private place in his very public world. Ruben Rivera learned that invading that sanctum can be a most serious offense.
Once one of the most promising prospects in baseball, Rivera was placed on unconditional release waivers by the New York Yankees after being accused of taking a bat and glove from teammate Derek Jeter's locker.
''That type of thing is a shock,'' manager Joe Torre said Tuesday. ''It's sad. It's unfortunate.''
Unlike many off-the-field transgressions that often can be overlooked, Rivera was not given a second chance by the Yankees.
''We look at this as our house and this is our family,'' reliever Mike Stanton said. ''We spend more time here than we do with our real families. This was something that had to be dealt with quickly and as discretely as possible, but that's not possible in this age.''
None of the Yankees players or officials would publicly say why Rivera was cut. But a baseball lawyer familiar with the decision, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Rivera took the equipment from Jeter's locker and sold it to a sports memorabilia agent.
Rivera later returned the glove and bat, which he reportedly sold for $2,500, but it was too late to save his career with the Yankees.
He signed a $1 million, one-year guaranteed contract with the Yankees last month, but the team negotiated a $200,000 settlement Monday, the source said.
''The clubhouse is a special place,'' Torre said. ''It's our sanctuary. It's big part of what we do. Trust is very important.''
Jeter declined to comment, saying he didn't ''want to add fuel to the fire.''
Rivera also refused to comment on Monday night before leaving the team and agents declined comment.
Clubhouse thefts aren't common, but two notable ones became public last year.
Philadelphia 76ers conditioning coach John Croce, the brother of then-team president Pat Croce, was fired after he was caught on videotape stealing money from Allen Iverson's pants in the locker room.
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