published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Ben Sheets' Atlanta Braves debut set for Sunday

  • photo
    Ben Sheets makes his first appearance since 2010 with the Mississippi Braves, the class 2A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, Wednesday, July 4, 2012 in Pearl, Miss. Sheets faced the Jackson Generals.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Ben Sheets is ready to return to the major leagues for the first time in two years.

Capping a long comeback from elbow surgery, the former Milwaukee ace will start for the Atlanta Braves on Sunday against the New York Mets.

"Everything's working," Sheets said Thursday. "Everything's feeling great. I've been throwing the ball good. Keep making good pitches, you'll get outs."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez liked what he saw from Sheets during a bullpen session before Atlanta's off-day workout at Turner Field.

"I wasn't watching anything other than that he felt good and all of a sudden, 'Oh, my shoulder's sore or my arm's sore,"' Gonzalez said. "But he was fine and threw some pretty good curveballs."

The Braves will make a roster move before Sheets' first big-league start since he and the Oakland Athletics lost 2-1 to Boston on July 19, 2010.

After that start, Sheets landed on the disabled list for the seventh time in his career, undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and torn elbow ligament.

Atlanta signed Sheets, who turns 34 next Wednesday, to a minor league contract on July 1. He made two starts for Class AA Mississippi, going 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. In eight seasons with Milwaukee and one with Oakland, the right-hander is 90-92 with a 3.79 ERA in 241 career starts.

Gonzalez hopes Sheets can go five innings Sunday but does not want him to throw more than 88 or so pitches.

"He's really, really pumped up about pitching again," Gonzalez said. "You don't always get a second chance, and I think him two years of not pitching and then getting a little taste of it, I think is going to be good."

Sheets expects to feel some anxiety before making his Atlanta debut.

"It's always nerves, man," he said. "It's always going to be nerves no matter where you're coming from or where you've been."

The Braves' rotation has been in flux since Brandon Beachy tore a ligament in his right elbow and underwent season-ending surgery on June 25.

Jair Jurrjens is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA since returning from a demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, but Randall Delgado and Mike Minor have struggled with inconsistency.

Tim Hudson, who pitches opposite Mets right-hander Chris Young tonight, has had two cortisone shots to relieve the pain from bone spurs in his left ankle. His second shot was July 6 after his 5-0 win at Philadelphia.

"I feel really good about it," Hudson said. "It feels better than it has since this whole process started with my ankle. It's pretty close to 100 percent. I've just got to stay on top of it and keep it that way."

Gonzalez said general manager Frank Wren continues to look for ways to improve the club, which is four games behind first-place Washington in the National League East and a half-game ahead of the Mets.

Atlanta lost rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a broken right little finger in last Sunday's 4-3 victory at Philadelphia. Gonzalez indicated that Jack Wilson will start in Simmons' place tonight, but the Braves might call up rookie Tyler Pastornicky from Gwinnett.

Pastornicky hit .248 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 45 games with the Braves early this season, but his seven errors led Atlanta to demote him and call up Simmons on June 1.

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.