06/17/2002 9:55 pm ET
Sheets scratched from start
Right-hander rested an extra day, to start Tuesday
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Jose Cabrera's name was listed as the starting pitcher on Brewers manager Jerry Royster's lineup card Monday, but he wasn't the only one.
Under a layer of white-out was the name "Sheets." But right-hander Ben Sheets, the Brewers' ace and their All-Star representative last season, was scratched before the game and given an extra day to recover from his heavy workload of late.
He instead will start Tuesday against the Astros at Miller Park.
"There's no problems with Ben Sheets at all -- none whatsoever," pitching coach Dave Stewart said. "He's not having any health problems, nothing. But my job as the pitching coach is to be sure he stays healthy the entire season.
"He's the one key to our entire rotation. If Ben Sheets is not in our rotation, we're going to be in a whole lot of trouble."
In his last five starts Sheets has thrown no fewer than 95 pitches, topping out at a 119-pitch effort in a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati May 22. He has lost his last four starts, most recently a 7-2 loss at Oakland in which Sheets allowed six earned runs and nine hits.
Sheets threw 98 pitches in that four-inning effort.
"I got a day off," he said. "You take the extra days when they come."
So the Brewers began preparing Cabrera, who was originally scheduled to start Tuesday, to move ahead for Monday's start. The decision to start him instead of Sheets came only a few hours before game time.
"It was not [the plan] all along, it was a possibility all along," Royster said. "We just made the decision that he threw all those pitches that it was a strong possibility. ... It worked out good for Ben, and it's about him."
It's about Sheets because he is considered one of the cornerstones of the Brewers’ future. Last season as a rookie, Sheets had 10 wins before June 29 and earned a spot on the National League All-Star team.
This year has started much slower, both for Sheets and his club. The 23-year-old is 3-7 and has a 4.33 ERA, and the Brewers entered Monday's game against Houston 23-45, last in the National League.
"I think it could be a little better," Sheets said of his record. "But it's what it should be because we're going out there every day battling 100 percent and nobody's trying to slack off and I'm not trying to give up runs and we're not trying to not score runs. We're doing what we can.
"I think we could have a couple of more wins as a unit -- 10, 12 more -- but that's something you have to take care of in the clubhouse and go out and do it on the field."
What's the big difference between his fast start last year and his slow start in 2002?
"Wins," he said. "But we were winning more games as a unit also. They're harder to come by this year, but I think we'll get it done in the end.
"I feel like I've pitched better games this year, so just go out there and pitch my game."
Stewart said there was nothing to gain by starting him Monday instead of Tuesday, and a lot to lose. Royster agreed.
"He's a commodity, you just gotta take care of him," Royster said. "We're building our staff around him and if this one day helps then I'm glad he got it."
After his quick start last year pushed his record to 10-4, Sheets lost his next six decisions and landed on the disabled list Aug. 14 with rotator cuff tendinitis. He returned later in the season and won Milwaukee's last game of the year, a 15-5 rout over the soon to be World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.
Adam McCalvy covers the Brewers for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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