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.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.