Sheets wild, but OK
Righty might be ready to go against Astros Saturday
By TOM HAUDRICOURTmailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: May 23, 2005
Right-hander Ben Sheets passed the biggest test yet Monday in his quest to return to the Brewers' starting rotation.
Sheets, who has been on the disabled list since April 21 with inner ear inflammation, pitched four-plus innings in an extended spring training game in Peoria, Ariz., and reported only one brief instant of disorientation. He allowed four hits and four runs (two earned), with two walks and five strikeouts, and threw 53 of 75 pitches for strikes.
"The catcher had a tough time catching him, so he had a couple of wild pitches on strikeouts," said assistant general manager Gord Ash, who received an on-site report from farm director Reid Nichols and minor league pitching coach Steve Cline as well as head trainer Roger Caplinger.
"All three were very positive about his stuff. They said he looked fine and felt fine. His velocity was good. His command was a little off, as would be expected after such a long layoff.
"As far as accomplishing what he needed to do in Arizona, he did that."
Sheets will be examined in Milwaukee today by team internist Craig Young. Assuming there are no surprises, he is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday morning under the watchful eye of pitching coach Mike Maddux, before the Brewers' game against Colorado.
After that session, the decision will be made as to whether Sheets is ready to return to the rotation Saturday for a start at home against Houston. At this stage, it will take a significant setback for Sheets to miss that start.
"We'll see what the doctor says and what Mike sees in the bullpen session," Ash said. "It depends on the input of both. Roger said he had one slight sensation of fogginess but said he recovered quickly."
After Sheets returns to the rotation, the Brewers will have to decide what to do with Wes Obermueller, who has made four starts in his absence. Obermueller (1-0, 2.43 ERA) has been brilliant in his last two outings, allowing only five hits and one run in 14 innings.
Gary Glover, the No. 5 starter, takes a 2-3 record and 6.46 ERA into his next start Wednesday against Colorado.
"I haven't even thought about that yet," said manager Ned Yost.
Miller back: Catcher Damian Miller returned to the lineup after missing two games with biceps tendinitis.
"It has been an ongoing thing," Yost said.
"There are days that it's bad. We're trying to give him every opportunity to get rid of it. Really, the only way to get rid of it completely is to rest for a week but we can't afford to do that, either."
With Miller in the lineup, Yost put rookie J.J. Hardy back at shortstop. Yost has avoided putting both in the same lineup because they are batting so far below .200 (Hardy was at .156; Moeller at .098).
Yost said he has heard complaints from fans that the Brewers should not have sold Triple-A catcher Pat Borders, 42, to Seattle while keeping Chad Moeller as the backup at the big-league level.
"People don't realize (Moeller's) value to the pitching staff," said Yost, who added sarcastically, "Because he's batting .098, let's chop his head off and throw him in the river."
"It doesn't mean, because he's struggling for a month or six weeks, that he can't hit. He didn't hit .098 last year."
Moeller batted .208 in 2004, including a .168 mark after the all-star break.
Not whole yet: Yost still could not field his regular lineup, however. First baseman Lyle Overbay sat out with a bruised shin, suffered trying to break up a double play Sunday in Minnesota.
"It hurts him to run and move laterally," said Yost, who started Wes Helms at first base. "It's just a bruise. He'll be OK."
Yost said that third baseman Russell Branyan continues to be bothered by weakness in his right shoulder. Branyan has started only one of the Brewers' last five games.
"It doesn't really hurt to throw but it affects his swing," Yost said.