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.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.
Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.
Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.