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09/19/08 6:46 PM ET
Sheets not throwing in towel on season
Ace to miss next start with 'tendinitis,' worried about ligament
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets will not even try to throw a baseball until Tuesday, but he is holding out hope for one more start this season. Sheets was originally lined up to pitch Tuesday against the Pirates and then in the Brewers' regular-season finale Sept. 28 against the Cubs. But that plan was drawn up before Sheets exited his outing in Chicago on Wednesday because of pain in his right elbow. "I think Tuesday is a far fetch," Sheets said. "But I'm definitely not ruling [myself] out for the rest of the year. I think that's very possible." He has been receiving treatment for the injury since at least his Aug. 26 start at St. Louis, and Friday referred to the problem as tendinitis. An MRI scan earlier this month showed no structural damage, but Sheets conceded he has been worrying about the possibility of a more serious injury that would require Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, and before or during several of his starts had asked the team's athletic trainers to do a manual test to ensure the ligament was strong. "That's what I'm most worried about, but that isn't the only terrible thing that can happen," Sheets said. "Even in a lot of those starts, I would make sure Roger [Caplinger, the head trainer] would grab me and just check that. As long as he kept telling me that was fine, I was fine with it." Sheets felt pain Wednesday while facing his third batter and said he had similar scares during previous outings. He pitched the final two innings of his Sept. 6 complete-game win over the Padres with pain. He pitched all five innings against the Mets on Sept. 1 with pain. The pain against the Cubs was much more severe, Sheets said. He still feels it. "In normal life, there's still things," Sheets said. "Any time you turn a doorknob or squeeze something, all that hurts." Sheets is in the final season of a four-year contract, and he will be a first-time free agent at the end of the season. If he does make another Brewers start, he figures it would be during the final weekend of the regular season. Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said Friday that the team is sensitive about pushing Sheets while he is so close to free agency, despite the Brewers' tenuous position in the standings. Acting manager Dale Sveum is desperately trying to piece together a starting rotation for a bid to win a spot in the postseason, and will use CC Sabathia on Saturday on short rest. Seth McClung will move back to the rotation on Sunday, and after an off-day Monday, Dave Bush likely will take Sheets' spot Tuesday. The Brewers were 1 1/2 games behind the Mets in the Wild Card standings entering a weekend series in Cincinnati. The Mets were in Atlanta for three games against the Braves. "If I can pitch I don't worry about next year," Sheets said. "It's almost a stupidity factor, I guess. I wasn't in a good state the other day. I probably shouldn't have thrown that second [inning], you know? That's what it is. I'd like to pitch one more game [in Milwaukee] for sure." Sheets clarified, saying he wanted to pitch one more game in Milwaukee this season for the Brewers. When asked if he had considered that it could be his last game for the Brewers, period, Sheets was vague. "You never know," Sheets said. "You don't know what tomorrow holds."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.