Ben Sheets is one of the beneficiaries of a little extra rest in the next two weeks as part of the Braves plan to go to a six-man rotation when Tommy Hanson returns from the disabled list Friday.
After Sheets gave up five runs in six innings Sunday night against the Mets, broadcasters suggested he might be experiencing “dead arm” a common phenomenon pitchers go through during spring training as they get their arms in shape.
But Sheets said Tuesday he would characterize it more as “dead body” now that he’s six starts into his comeback after two years out of baseball following multiple elbow operations.
“My whole body felt dead,” Sheets said. “I was like ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ guy. I was like Bernie.”
Sheets characterized it all as normal soreness and said he’s felt better coming off his last start.
“Soreness is going to come,” Sheets said. “One day it’s my back, my hip, my shoulder, my elbow, my wrist, my butt, my toe, my head. It’s just pretty normal. It’s like going to the gym when you’re building up. You’re going to be sore. If you’re going to get stronger, you’re going to get sore.”
Sheets said the soreness has come mostly between starts but he has felt the same once he gets on the mound. His fastball was still 88-91 mph Sunday, occasionally touching 92 mph but he wasn’t quite as sharp with location.
“Everybody else goes through it, I don’t know why I wouldn’t,” said Sheets, who is still 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA. “It isn’t why I didn’t have very good success (against the Mets). If you look at the stuff, the stuff was identical. I felt identical. I felt good out there.”
Sheets said he has no problem with going to a six-man rotation, though. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed out on Tuesday that he’s actually been using off days to create a virtual six-man rotation for much of the season anyway. Braves starters have a 3.60 ERA in 38 starts this season on five days’ rest, compared to a 4.24 ERA in 57 starts on four days’ rest.
“If we’ve got to go three-man, or 10-man, I don’t care,” Sheets said. “…Whatever can help this team I’m going to do.”