Vivlamore reporting from Turner Field
Ben Sheets will make his first major-league start in nearly two years on Sunday. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the right-hander will face the Mets after watching Sheets throw a bullpen session Thursday afternoon.
“He said he felt great, so he’s going to start on Sunday,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the Braves have yet to decide how having Sheets pitch will affect the rest of the rotation – namely Mike Minor or Randall Delgado. The team won’t have to make a move until Sunday when the activate Sheets. Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson will start the first two games of the series against the Mets. After an off-day Monday, Jair Jurrjens will start Tuesday against the Giants. Either Minor or Delgado would pitch Wednesday.
“We’ll see what happens the first couple days [after the All-Star break] before we decide on that,” Gonzalez said.
Sheets said he felt ready after making two minor-league starts at Double-A Mississippi.
“I thought I threw the ball pretty well, to tell you the truth,” Sheets said. “Mistakes got hit, like they will up here. Even when you are in mid-season form you are going to make mistakes. It’s going to happen. You have to minimize [the mistakes] and make pitches around them. The more good pitches you make the better off you’ll be.”
The Braves signed Sheets to a minor-league contract on July 1. A four-time All-Star with the Brewers who once struck out 18 Braves in a game in 2004, Sheets was out of baseball at 33 years old after two elbow surgeries. Sheets, who turns 34 on July 18th, hasn’t pitched a full season in four years.
Sheets was 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts for the M-Braves. In 10-2/3 innings he allowed 12 hits, seven runs (six earned) with 10 strikeouts and one walk.
“He is such a competitor,” catcher Brian McCann said of Sheets. “If his arm is where it needs to be, he is going to be dominant because he’s got one of the best curveballs in the business. He’s got a great fastball. He’s got a really good change-up as well. He’s been a No. 1 [starter] in this league for a long time. If he comes back like we all expect him to come back, it’s going to be a big lift for this team.”
- Chris Vivlamore
LOOK FOR ANOTHER BLOG ON WHAT THE BRAVES WILL DO A SHORTSTOP A LITTLE LATER.