The Atlanta Braves, looking to make a move to bolster their starting rotation after the loss of Brandon Beachy to surgery, have signed four-time All-Star starting pitcher Ben Sheets to a minor league deal, braves.com reports. He will make his first start on Independance Day for Double-A MIssissippi.
Sheets, who turns 34 on July 18, has a 90-92 record with a 3.79 ERA. In eight seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2001-2008, Sheets won 10 or more games seven times, but he missed 2009 with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow and Tommy John surgery in 2011. He sandwiched 20 starts in 2010 with the Oakland A's before his Tommy John surgery in August 2010.
“You look at him being a guy who, if the progression goes as we hope, that he could join our rotation in the next few weeks,” general manager Frank Wren said to Dave O'Brien. “No definitive time, just the next few weeks. What we just saw in the bullpen was very impressive.”
Sheets threw a bullpen session Sunday morning at Turner Field where he impressed Braves brass. After his agent let the Braves know he was interested in a return to baseball, he threw in front of Braves representatives and several other teams at Georgia Tech. His fastball hovered around the 91-92 range.
“He threw a five-inning simulated game at Georgia Tech,” Wren said. “We saw enough that we were very impressed. The velocity was pretty close to what we’ve come to know in the past as Ben Sheets and the quality of breaking stuff – he’s always had a very good curveball and change-up – it was all the more impressive.”
The move could end up solidifying a rotation that has seen Randall Delgado and Mike MInor struggle in the first half and lost Brandon Beachy due to Tommy John surgery. The Braves have also reportedly looked into making a deal for the likes of Zack Grienke, Jason Vargas, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.
Sheets was originally drafted by the Brewers in 1999 as the 10th overall pick.
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