The Associated Press reported that Ben Sheets got his world rocked again on Thursday, this time by some minor leaguers in a game in Phoenix.
Oakland’s prized free-agent signee, who has struggled mightily this spring, allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. His changeup was poor, and he allowed several hard-hit balls, including a two-run home run.
It was also, however, Sheets’ best outing of the spring, and Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle had a slightly more positive spin:
Nevertheless, Sheets accomplished what he wanted to, getting in a lot of innings and 85 pitches. His fastball hit 92 mph, according to A’s minor-league pitcher Matt Wright, manning the radar gun and charting pitches today.
Sheets will make his final start before the regular season on Tuesday, and he’s not concerned about his mediocre to occasionally disastrous (10 batters faced, none retired) spring results. Since he hasn’t pitched in more than a year, the main thing is that he’s healthy and that he gets in his work. He always has awful springs, he said, and Sheets seems like a fellow who knows himself pretty well. He’s known for his bulldog mentality, and those guys tend to be able to turn it on when the games mean something.
That take certainly holds a fair amount of logic and sounds very good. And I realize you can’t always put much stock in spring training results, when you’ll often see pitchers just working on improving a particular pitch or on hitting a particular location. But with the season nearly here the time for tinkering is over, and Sheets has been really bad this spring. The A’s can’t feel too confident on handing $10 million to a struggling pitcher who hasn’t pitched when “the games mean something” since 2008.
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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”