ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 25: Pitcher Ben Sheets #15 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 25, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
The Braves have just signed RHP Ben Sheets to a minor league contract. Will make his first start on 7/4 at Double-A Mississippi.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 1, 2012
The Braves have announced the 33-year-old will make his first appearance on the 4th of July for their Double-A affiliate.
Sheets is attempting to return to the majors following a pair of elbow surgeries. Sheets last appeared in the bigs with the Oakland Athletics in 2010, but he was forced to miss the entire 2011 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Who got the better deal -- Sheets or the Braves?
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution spoke with Braves general manager Frank Wren about the Sheets signing:
"You look at him being a guy who, if the progression goes as we hope, that he could join our rotation in the next few weeks," Braves general manager Frank Wren said after watching Sheets throw a bullpen session Sunday morning at Turner Field. "No definitive time, just the next few weeks. What we just saw in the bullpen was very impressive."
"He threw a five-inning simulated game at Georgia Tech," said Wren, noting that Sheets’ fastball velocity was 91-92 during the session. "We saw enough that we were very impressed.
The velocity was pretty close to what we’ve come to know in the past as Ben Sheets and the quality of breaking stuff – he’s always had a very good curveball and change-up – it was all the more impressive."
Sheets made 20 starts for the A’s while maintaining an ERA and WHIP of 4.53 and 1.391. His SO/9 (6.3) was down from his career norms while his BB/9 (3.2) was up.
Prior to signing his deal with the A’s, Sheets had spent his entire professional career with the Milwaukee Brewers. After being taken 10th overall in the 1999 MLB Draft, Sheets made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2001. Over his eight seasons with Milwaukee, Sheets held an ERA and WHIP of 3.72 and 1.201 with 7.6 SO/9 and 2.0 BB/9.
Before signing with the Braves, Sheets was also scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.