Big day for Sheets who debuts for Braves

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)

So it’s family day here at Turner Field, and there are a couple of Braves kids here more concerned about the game itself than running around and hitting on the field with their fathers before the game – that would be 9-year old Seaver Sheets and his 5-year-old brother Miller.

Sheets tending to last-minute details, like signing major league contract (Photo courtesy of Braves)

Sheets tending to last-minute details, like signing major league contract (Photo courtesy of Braves)

Those two boys have watched their father Ben Sheets work his way back to the mound from two years out after two elbow surgeries. Today the former four-time All-Star for the Brewers will make his debut with the Braves almost two years to the day from when he last started with the Oakland As against Boston on July 19, 2010.

Sheets made 20 starts in 2010, his only major league action in the past three-plus seasons since 2008, the year he started for the NL in the All-Star game. Now here Sheets is three days shy of his 34th birthday, eager to prove he can still be an effective pitcher.

It’s been two weeks since that Sunday morning, July 1, when Sheets threw a bullpen at Turner Field and signed with the Braves after undergoing a physical. It’s been a whirlwind, I’m sure, but he seems ready. He said there will be nerves, of course, but there always are.

“It doesn’t matter if I’ve got 20 games under my belt,” Sheets said. “It would be the same type of nerves.”

He doesn’t seem to be too fazed by the fact that he’s not exactly being eased back into a rotation either. It’s a little more than two weeks before the trade deadline, and the Braves want to see if he can be a key veteran piece to boost their rotation for the stretch run.

“It’s July,” he said. “Better buckle down….I ain’t just out there. I expect to be successful.”

Seaver has been by his father’s side throughout his comeback, from first encouraging him to get back on the mound instead of just coaching his Little League team, to watching him throw into his “throwback” machine in the backyard of their Monroe, La. home.

Seaver and Miller watched their dad throw both of his minor league starts for Double-A Mississippi and were standing by his side in his locker Sunday morning (more on that in a moment.)

Braves hope Sheets will be like this guy

Braves hope Sheets will be like this guy

The Braves have clocked Sheets at 91, 92 mph, not far off what he first saw light up on the radar gun on the throwback machine. That’s a machine that Seaver, a corner outfielder for his Little League team, said he can top out at 50 mph on his best day. Good thing dad didn’t break it!

As for what it will feel like to watch his dad take the mound again in a major league uniform?

“Awesome,” said Seaver, who’s named for the Mets Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver.

Sheets is hoping he can gain a few more ticks on the fastball here as he goes, but as is, said, “I feel like I can get outs with what I got. But if I can gain one, two ticks back, it’s not a lot, it can only help. What I got now I can definitely pitch with.”

The adrenaline of being back in the majors might help that too.

“I hope,” Sheets said. “We’ll see. When (you see that) that third deck gets, you either rise up or you fall down.”

Sheets by the way, was originally put in THE cursed locker when he joined the major league club coming out of the All-Star break. But today when we went into the clubhouse his stuff had been moved to a locker over in row outside the circle of the “keyhole” shape, along with newcomer Paul Janish, Tyler Pastornicky, Anthony Varvaro, etc.

Seems word got to Sheets that the locker on the corner has a hex, with recent victims like Livan Hernandez, Julio Lugo, Kenshin Kawakami and a ton more, and he asked out. So that locker is vacant again. That bodes better for his start today against the Mets and Johan Santana, no?

Uggla sits

Speaking of Santana, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla is out of the lineup for only the second time all season, and although he’s shown signs of breaking out of his month-long slump with hits in his past three games, manager Fredi Gonzalez needed to figure a way to get Matt Diaz into the lineup against Santana, and didn’t want to sit Martin Prado.

Diaz is hitting .514 (18-for-35) with four doubles, one home run and four RBIs against Santana (pause for reflection). Uggla is only 1-for-21 (.048) with one home run and 12 strikeouts against him.

“We have got to try to play [Diaz],” Gonzalez said. “He has really, really good numbers against  Santana. I mean really good numbers. Numbers you can’t ignore. Put him out there and try to keep Prado in the lineup and put him at second base.”

Uggla is 3-for-9 with a home run, three RBIs and three runs in his past three games, and his single to left in the eighth Saturday helped start the Braves’ three-run rally to beat the Mets. But overall since that four-hit two-homer game in Miami on June 5, Uggla is hitting .119 (12-for-101) with four extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 31 games.

Janish and Pastornicky

Janish debuting at short today for Braves. Getty Images

Janish debuting at short today for Braves. Getty Images

Newcomer Paul Janish will make his debut today and continue to be the Braves every day shortstop, with both Andrelton Simmons and Jack Wilson on the DL with pinky finger problems.

Prado and Pastonicky will back him up, but based on what Gonzalez said this morning, he plans to continue to keep Pastornicky in the utility role they’ve been trying to work him into in Gwinnett. So that would mean some short, some second base, and he said not to be surprised if he puts Pastornicky out in left field one of these days.

Pastornicky has played a dozen or so games at second base in Triple-A and has been taking flyballs in the outfield every day during batting practice. He has yet to see game action in the outfield, calling it more of a work in progress. But he said he’s been comfortable at second base, and yes, also comfortable with the whole idea of becoming more of a utility player.

I hadn’t had a chance to ask Pastornicky about that since he got sent down. But based on what he had to say this morning, he seems to have a great attitude about it, which fits with his personality. The Braves have to be pleased with how he’s handled all the ups and downs so far.

“Whatever it takes I’m willing to do,” Pastornicky said. “I’m not real worried about where I’m playing, as long as I’m here and helping the team win, I’m cool with it. It never was an issue for me at all.”

His dad Cliff Pastornicky is a former player (10 games up with the Royals in 1983) and now a scout with the Blue Jays. I wondered what he thought about the whole change for his son and what he’s been telling Tyler about how to handle it. Sounds to me like it’s been nothing but encouragement and positive reinforcement.

“He thinks it’s good for me,” Pastornicky said. “There’s definitely nothing wrong with learning how to play other positions. It makes you more valuable. Anything you can do to help the team win is going to make them want you….He completely understands. It’s one of those things it made it a lot easier for me to understand too.”

Braves lineup

1. Michael Bourn CF

2. Martin Prado 2B

3. Jason Heyward RF

4. Chipper Jones 3B

5. Freddie Freeman 1B

6. Brian McCann C

7. Matt Diaz LF

8. Paul Janish SS

9. Ben Sheets P

2,718 comments Add your comment

DiamondbackMac

July 15th, 2012
1:17 pm

DiamondbackMac

July 15th, 2012
1:18 pm

64 year Braves fan

July 15th, 2012
1:23 pm

Release Wilson & Francisco. Call up Costanza & Parraz from Gwinnet both hitting over .300.
Would provide more speed, fielding & hitting. Also Teheran bombed again last nite for Gwinnet.
TraDE HIM.

Webster

July 15th, 2012
1:25 pm

Why dont the Braves clubhouse guys just place crime scene tape around this locker?

Coach (2012 Fredi's Beisbol Fandango)

July 15th, 2012
1:27 pm

all thing aside, I have one word for Braves fans today…..

SANTANA.

Sid Slid

July 15th, 2012
1:27 pm

Go get ‘em Ben!

BFChris27

July 15th, 2012
1:27 pm

Thanks for new blog 8-)

Lets go Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sid Slid

July 15th, 2012
1:28 pm

Santana has been hittable of late, if I’m not mistaken.

Jeff R

July 15th, 2012
1:28 pm

Let’s hope Sheets delivers. Fingers’ crossed.

Webster

July 15th, 2012
1:29 pm

FW should seriously consider trading Teheran. His stock is dropping.

Sid Slid

July 15th, 2012
1:29 pm

Yes, thanks Carroll! :)

TuffShhhtuff

July 15th, 2012
1:30 pm

Now what kind of comments are “Hmmmmm” and “Strange” especially when you’re first AND second?

jerry

July 15th, 2012
1:30 pm

Where’s Dan the Man?

Venice Jim

July 15th, 2012
1:31 pm

Thanks, Carroll!

Sid Slid

July 15th, 2012
1:31 pm

A lot better than sophomoric “first” or “second.”

VaBravesFan

July 15th, 2012
1:32 pm

Gotta be concerned about Teheran for sure.

Braves/Heat 2012 Champs

July 15th, 2012
1:32 pm

Ben Sheets 2012 NL Comeback Player of the Year. Book it.

Venice Jim

July 15th, 2012
1:33 pm

He named his son “Seaver” – I am so impressed! :D

Bobby H

July 15th, 2012
1:34 pm

Thanks for the new blog, Carroll

Derrota Santana!!!

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:35 pm

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

July 15th, 2012
1:35 pm

We have “Seaver” and “Shea” now and we’re playing the Mets. How ironic could it be?

nolie

July 15th, 2012
1:36 pm

ESPN Insider Olney: Dempster Deal Beckons
.Ryan Dempster’s six scoreless innings for the Chicago Cubs on Saturday were probably his last with the team, because now is the best time to trade him. Dempster is healthy now, after being on the disabled list earlier this year, and if the Cubs deal him before his next scheduled start — rather than later this month — his presence won’t complicate their marketing of Matt Garza in late July.

Last July, if you recall, the San Diego Padres listened to offers for Heath Bell and Mike Adams, and in the end, they couldn’t get what they wanted for Bell partly because of the persistent interest in Adams.

So Dempster will soon be gone, at a time when he’s throwing really well; he’s been able to throw a split-fingered fastball lately after limiting its use in the past because of a blister. Opponents have a .562 OPS against Dempster, easily the lowest mark of his career, and his ERA of 1.86 is the lowest in the majors. The Cubs are selling a stock performing at peak level, and beyond the numbers, Dempster is highly regarded for his personality, his clubhouse presence and his experience.

There are 10 teams involved in the pursuit of Dempster, writes Bruce Levine.

Earlier this season, when there were fewer teams declaring themselves as buyers, the Dodgers appeared to be the favorite for the right-hander — and they still may land him.

But there is more competition for him now, and the Cubs are willing to eat a whole lot of the money owed to Dempster for the rest of the season, because they want to get the best possible talent in return.

Here’s a list of teams for which Dempster could be a fit:

Cleveland Indians: Cubs president Theo Epstein has made multiple deals with the Indians in the past when he was in Boston, and Cleveland is looking for a rotation stabilizer.

Baltimore Orioles: With Jason Hammel down, the Orioles are looking for a starter to stop the bleeding in their rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals: They have had fraying in their rotation this season. They know Dempster, and he knows the division. The Cubs would deal within the division because at this stage in their rebuilding efforts, they are simply looking for the best prospect match.

Chicago White Sox: It’s unclear how much more Chris Sale will help the White Sox, and Dempster could provide a big lift.

Washington Nationals: At some point, the Nationals are going to shut down Stephen Strasburg, probably in late August or early September. Dempster would be a perfect addition to the Nationals’ solid rotation.

Boston Red Sox: Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has said he’s looking for starting pitching, and Epstein could find common ground, given his knowledge of the Red Sox’s farm system.

Detroit Tigers: This is an all-in year for the Tigers, but it’s unclear whether Detroit would consider a swap of Nick Castellanos in a Dempster deal, or if the Tigers would hold him out for more than a 2½-month rental such as Dempster.

New York Yankees: Dempster could fit, but there’s really no pressing need for New York. It’s hard to imagine the Yankees extending themselves significantly at a time when they’re beginning to run away with the AL East.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Dempster would boost the Dodgers’ chances, and the perception of L.A. in other front offices is that the new ownership wants to do everything possible to win now. But now that the Dempster bidding has gotten more competitive, it’s unclear whether the Dodgers can outgun other teams for him.

Los Angeles Angels: Injury issues have popped up for both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, making starting pitching a priority for this team.

Toronto Blue Jays: Dempster would be a nice “tweener” addition for the Blue Jays, who are hanging on the edge of the wild-card race. He wouldn’t be as expensive as Garza, and he would be a badly needed upgrade over what the Blue Jays have.

Pittsburgh Pirates: If they can add one more solid starter, they would strengthen the foundation for a team already good enough to win the NL Central. Epstein and Pirates GM Neal Huntington have made many trades in the past.

Atlanta Braves: They have been considering their options in the market for starting pitching, and at a time when the Cubs are looking for young starters, the Braves have some to offer.

Venice Jim

July 15th, 2012
1:37 pm

Well started…

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:37 pm

Nice start and curve for Ben

Bravefaninok

July 15th, 2012
1:37 pm

91 he has better velo than 3/5ths of our starters

that hook was nasty……….

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:37 pm

wow, Sheets looks great so far.

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

Nice catch, Bourn!

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

No hitter still in tact

VaBravesFan

July 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

July 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

Ben’s going to have to tighten up those uni pants a little bit. Too “pajama-like”. Then again maybe he may just want to keep them on and wear them to bed tonight.

Coach (2012 Fredi's Beisbol Fandango)

July 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

Yea, best of luck to Ben Sheets.

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:39 pm

You know Ben is pumped

VaBravesFan

July 15th, 2012
1:39 pm

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:40 pm

Just gotta get one more, Ben

Pace

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Good first inning – nice speed variance between fastball/curve. Of course, adrenalin was pumping a bit. Hope he keeps it up.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Great 1st inning for Ben…. so far, so good

Jerry

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Good job Ben! Keep it up.

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Great for Ben!!!!

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Nice first inning for Sheets!

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

July 15th, 2012
1:41 pm

Well, the perfect game is gone, but the no-hitter is still in effect!

Mixxo

July 15th, 2012
1:42 pm

Mr. Sheets’s curveball is still there.

Capt.Mudd

July 15th, 2012
1:42 pm

……clean sheets, just how I like ‘em

Carroll Rogers

July 15th, 2012
1:43 pm

91-93 from sheets on his fastball in the first inning….got first K on curveball

Tomahawk Mafia

July 15th, 2012
1:44 pm

Good first inning for Sheets.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:44 pm

I agree that they should release Wilson… he doesn’t do anything to help the Braves

tmc

July 15th, 2012
1:45 pm

C’mon nolie. we can do without the “war & peace” post.
thanks.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:46 pm

Last night I was shocked when Collins did not bring in a left-hander to face Bourn in the bottom of the 8th… Bourn really struggles against the left-handers and we’ll see more of that today against Johan.

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

TNScott

July 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

BFChris27

July 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bravefaninok

July 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

Marteeeeeennnnnnnnn

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

One day the Braves are going to have to put up big money to keep Martin here.. his stock goes up every day.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:48 pm

Come on Jason… that was very weak. Did he forget there was already one out????

VaBravesFan

July 15th, 2012
1:48 pm

Heyward too aggressive in the AB.

Chip Carey

July 15th, 2012
1:48 pm

Line drive center field and that’s gonna roll for while as Duda cuts it off.

B_F 54

July 15th, 2012
1:48 pm

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen

Mitchie-sand

July 15th, 2012
1:49 pm

Thank God, we have the Sheets.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:49 pm

Gotta do better than that against Santana early.

Tomahawk Mafia

July 15th, 2012
1:50 pm

That inning obviously could have been better.

nolie

July 15th, 2012
1:51 pm

if you don’t want to read it, then don’t. Other folks here will since it is an Insider article that they can’t get.

phil

July 15th, 2012
1:51 pm

Sheets will fit right in….

Doesn’t shave, fat slob….

But as long as he gets em out, who cares!

Goober

July 15th, 2012
1:51 pm

and Gomer were COUSINS…..not brothers

Mitchie-sand

July 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

Thanks for the insider post, nolie.

tmc

July 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

trivia answer: my guess- Roy Halladay.

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:53 pm

If he keeps calling it out there never throw it over the plate Ben

phil

July 15th, 2012
1:53 pm

Good chuckle at the ball barely off the outside corner that Chip said was way outside….

Carroll Rogers

July 15th, 2012
1:53 pm

Sheets won’t go more than 100 pitches today but probably will be closer to 80….they’re keeping a close eye on hims and won’t put too much pressure on him in his first time out.

Capt.Mudd

July 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

Truth be told….I really like Diaz….wasn’t there an 80’s group–”Johnny Hates Diaz?”

Blog Monitor

July 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

Ben likes to work fast, good..

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

Sheets is looking pretty good, I’d say.

tmc

July 15th, 2012
1:54 pm

nolie- the first and last paragraph would have been more than enough. The other 15 paragraphs just made it annoying.

Mixxo

July 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

Nice inning Ben.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

tmc: I thought Halladay too
nolie: thanks for the post…. hope Sheets throws well and we can keep talent instead of getting a ‘rent an arm’

phil

July 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

Trade Prado for a player to be named later….

Nice job, Sheets!

nolie

July 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

good second inning Ben

Mark

July 15th, 2012
1:55 pm

NO NO…..Still

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

July 15th, 2012
1:56 pm

The one thing I like MOST about Sheets, other than he throws strikes, is he doesn’t mess around between pitches. He gets the ball and throws it. A couple of the Braves pitchers need to be in the AL with the amount of time spent between pitches.

Tomahawkin

July 15th, 2012
1:56 pm

“All my exes live in Texas”

love that song!

Jerry

July 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

Sheets is looking pretty good, but I hope he gets a bit better with his curveball. He has hung a few of them in the first two innings but they haven’t been in the zone where they can be hit well, so it’s okay. Just hope he doesn’t hang one belt high to anyone.

Doofus(Goober and Gomer's Smart Brother)

July 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

“Goober”, as I have explained before, NOT IN MY FAMILY! You are referring to the famous ones.

nolie

July 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

can’t help it that you lack patience or don’t like to read, but I don’t really care if it annoyed you or not.and who are you to dictate what anybody posts? Like I said, just scroll on by, won’t bother me at all.

Capt.Mudd

July 15th, 2012
1:58 pm

@Phil…yeah, Chirp said, ‘the ball is in the middle of the left batters box.” My eyes got wide and I checked my drink—sigh!

Bobby H

July 15th, 2012
1:58 pm

nolie

I appreciate the posting of that article. I’d like for the Braves to get Dempster, but it looks like they have their work cut out for them. He won’t go cheaply – that’s for sure.

Thanks, again.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

Chip is so annoying…. love listening to Tom though.

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

That surprises me, Tomahawkin’.

Tomahawkin

July 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

S/O’s to phil, BG4Life, BravesFaninAugusta, Mixxo, and T-Mafia!

DiamondbackMac

July 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

TuffShhhtuff

Now what kind of comments are “Hmmmmm” and “Strange” especially when you’re first AND second?

I was just surprised that no one else had commented at the time. Usually, when I read a new blog there is at least one person who has commented. As to the whole “first” thing, I think it’s asinine. It’s totally unnecessary to announce “first”. I mean really, it’s obvious who first made the first comment.

tmc

July 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

reminder- we got the wonderful CB Bucknor behind the plate today.

I’m just sayin… don’t be surprised when the horrific calls start comin.

Mixxo

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

“All my exes live in Texas”

love that song! – Tomahawkin

I like the chick in that ad. Very expressive….I like that shoulder thing she does in that one clip. :oops:

nolie

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

yeah Bobby I think he might bring back more than some folks here think he will cause there will be a lot of competition for him

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

Oh! Beautiful!! :D

bravesgrl4life

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

Yea, MacDaddy!!

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

Great hit to LF by Brian… needs to do more of that (but realize his power numbers will go down as a result)

Capt.Mudd

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

@McFann……nice adjustment he’s making!

TNScott

July 15th, 2012
2:00 pm

JOHAN, YOU JUST GOT CANNED!!!

phil

July 15th, 2012
2:01 pm

Really…

Some of you will complain about anything. Who cares how long a post is?

Scroll by it or get a life.

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

July 15th, 2012
2:01 pm

Heehee…BMac said the baby looks just like him!… :D

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

July 15th, 2012
2:02 pm

Capt.Mudd

Heck yeah!! It’s on, now!… :D

BravesfaninAugusta

July 15th, 2012
2:03 pm

Diaz better hit today now that Fredi benched Uggla in favor of getting Matty in the line-up… didn’t look too good that AB.

Mark

July 15th, 2012
2:03 pm

2 out hit time new guy!!

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