Three days after signing with the Braves on a minor-league deal Ben Sheets officially began his comeback at Double-A, throwing five innings yesterday in his first game action since 2010.
Sheets got off to a rough start, allowing back-to-back triples to open the game, and gave up four runs on five hits overall. On the plus side he also recorded six strikeouts versus just one walk and retired the final 10 batters he faced, saying afterward that it felt “like riding a bike … it all comes back to you.”
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that his fastball was clocked in the low-90s, which is ultimately more important than how many runs he allowed while shaking off the rust, and he’s scheduled to start again Monday.
General manager Frank Wren has made it clear that the Braves didn’t sign Sheets to keep him in the minors for very long and there’s been speculation that he could join the rotation shortly after the All-Star break.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.