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.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.