The New York Yankees released Ruben Rivera amid allegations the reserve outfielder stole equipment from the locker of Derek Jeter in the Legends Field clubhouse.

The alleged incident reportedly involved the theft of a bat and glove from Jeter's locker, which came to light when Rivera's teammates learned they were sold.

Rivera later returned the items, which he reportedly sold for $2,500 US, but it was too late to save his career with the Yankees.

"That type of thing is a shock," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It's sad.

"It's unfortunate."

Rivera signed a $1 million US, one-year guaranteed contract with the Yankees last month, but his lawyer and the Yankees negotiated a $200,000 US settlement on Monday.

After the players voted unanimously to kick Rivera off the team, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced at a hastily-called Monday night news conference that Rivera had been given his unconditional release.

"I will not go into details," Cashman said. "He is no longer a member of this organization."

"We look at this as our house and this is our family," added reliever Mike Stanton. "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."

Rivera, 28, refused to speak to the media, and Yankee players and management refused to disclose details of the incident.

"I won't be able to say anything about what happened," said Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, his cousin. "If someone is to say something, it will be him."

"I am disappointed. I prefer not to talk about it."

Incidents of clubhouse theft occurred recently in basketball and football.

Last year, John Croce, the Philadelphia 76ers strength coach and brother of former team president Pat Croce, was fired when hidden cameras caught him stealing money out of Allen Iverson's locker.

New Orleans Saints receiver Albert Connell was arrested for stealing money from teammate Deuce McAllister this past season.

"The clubhouse is a special place," Torre said. "It's our sanctuary.

"It's big part of what we do. Trust is very important."

Ruben Rivera once was considered a top prospect in the Yankees organization, but frustrated management with his lack of discipline on and off the field.

He was subsequently shipped to the San Diego Padres as part of the deal which brought Hideki Irabu to New York in 1997.

Rivera spent four disappointing seasons with the Padres and played last year with the Cincinnati Reds before re-signing with the Yankees over the off-season.