Not only did the Braves get a tremendous lift from Ben Sheets’ six shutout innings Sunday in his first start in two years, but his surgically-repaired elbow responded well too.
“Good,” said Sheets Tuesday, when asked how his elbow felt coming off the outing, bending his arm back and forth. “Great….I’m Tony the Tiger.”
The upbeat Sheets told manager Fredi Gonzalez in essence the same thing earlier Tuesday afternoon when he saw him in the team’s weight room. It’s no small thing for a pitcher who turns 34 on Wednesday and has had two major elbow operations, one to repair a torn flexor tendon and another to repair his flexor and pronator tendons in addition to his ulnar collateral ligament.
Gonzalez said having a day off Monday is a plus too because he can give Sheets an extra day off before he pitches against Saturday against the Nationals. Gonzalez said he wasn’t sure whether Sheets would pitch in the first game or the second of the doubleheader that day; it depended on Sheets’ preference. Randall Delgado will pitch the other game.
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball is allowing teams to expand rosters to 26 players for doubleheaders now, so long as both teams can get their players from the minor leagues in time. Teams can make the move without a player using an “option” or requiring the player to stay in the minors 10 days afterward.
“It’s like a free move,” Gonzalez said.