Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘Ben Sheets’ Category

October ’12 Quick Hits, Pt. 1

leave a comment »

Folks, I’m trying out a new browser — Mozilla Firefox — and so far, it’s working rather well.  My previous browser, a version of IE, wouldn’t let me properly access the WordPress blogging site, which is one reason I haven’t done much with my blog in the past two weeks (I suspect a recent “upgrade” — by the way, why is it that upgrades seem to cause so much distress for all concerned no matter who’s doing the upgrading? — by WordPress was what caused me not to be able to use the site properly).

At any rate, there are a number of things to get to, so let’s get started.

First, Atlanta Braves P Ben Sheets — a long-time starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers — indeed retired after pitching one inning of the 162nd and final game of the regular major league baseball season.

Second, I will write an “end of the season wrap-up” blog later this week which will point out the highs and lows of the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers season; for now, all I’ll say is that it’s obvious LF Ryan Braun (with his 41 HR and 30 SB) is the Brewers 2012 MVP and that if baseball writers were objective, Braun would be likely to have his second National League MVP in as many years.

Third, I’m rather frustrated with most politics and most politicians at the moment — aside from Racine’s state Senator John Lehman, that is, and my incoming state Assemblyman, Cory Mason (Mason represented a different area of Racine prior to this year; due to redistricting, he’s now running unopposed to represent the 61st Assembly district and the seat presently held by Robert Turner (D), as Turner has retired).  This is why I haven’t said much about politics in quite some time.

My basic beliefs, however, are unchanged; I believe that we’re not well served by our two major party system.  I think most of the candidates we get via this system are indebted to big money interests, or worse, must be insanely wealthy themselves in order to afford to run in the first place  (a la Mitt Romney of the Rs).  And while I like Gary Johnson the best (he’s the Libertarian candidate for President, and is the former Republican Governor of New Mexico), I’m still undecided as to how I’ll vote this fall in the Presidential election.

Fourth, I’m still fighting a lingering sinus issue, which is one of the main reasons I haven’t been blogging overmuch in the past several weeks (well, that and the browser situation, which I’ve now remedied quite nicely).  But I hope to write several blogs this week — maybe even one regarding the state of publishing, who knows? — and have a guest blog by novelist Stephanie Osborn in the pipeline that should be posted within the next two weeks also.

(Oh, yes — the reason this is “part one” of the Quick Hits for October is that I’m sure there’ll be more.  Because there always are.)

Stay safe, everyone.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Former Brewers P Ben Sheets to Make One Final Start, Then Retire

leave a comment »

Ben Sheets’ inspiring comeback has come to an end.  After not pitching since August 24, 2012, the Atlanta Braves will start Sheets one, final time tomorrow — and after that, Sheets will retire.

Sheets returned from a surgery which had been called by Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk as “the most massive in the history of pitching” (link is here: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/08/11/ben-sheets-just-had-the-most-massive-surgery-in-the-history-of-pitching/), and as JP Starkey said at SB Nation:

Many believed Sheets would be ineffective even if he were able to return, but Sheets defied the odds and pitched well for the Braves in 2012.

Unfortunately for Sheets, he was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 25, with inflammation in his right shoulder. Sheets pitched well for the Braves, and carries a 4-4 record, 3.54 ERA and 1.34 WHIP into his final start in 2012.

Starkey goes on to give Sheets’s career numbers:

Wednesday’s start will be the 250th and final start of Sheets’ career. Sheets needs to throw just four and a third innings to log 1,600 career innings. A master of control, Sheets has struck out 1,323 in his career against just 369 walks. Sheets’ career record stands at 94-96, with a 3.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.

I had been hoping for a better outcome for Ben Sheets, as I’ve said all along; Sheets was a fantastic pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, being a four-time All-Star (and one-time All-Star starter).  But as Sheets said today as reported by the Sporting News (link is here: http://aol.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2012-10-02/ben-sheets-retirement-atlanta-braves-2012-milwaukee-brewers):

“I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I’m not playing again,” Sheets told MLB.com. “No matter what, there is not enough help or money to pull me out of this one.”

The Sporting News goes on to note that:

His Wednesday start against the Pirates will be the 250th of this career and his first appearance in a game in over a month. The plan is for Sheets to throw two innings in the start.

Even though Sheets’s comeback will end after his final start, rather than continue on for a few more good years in similar fashion to Chris Capuano after his comeback from a second “Tommy John” procedure, Sheets still did very well.  He helped Atlanta.  He proved he can still pitch.  And he’s going out the way he seems to want — by pitching one, last time, and saying goodbye to the fans after taking part in one, final pennant race.

I hope for Sheets’s sake that his final outing will be a good, strong one, and that he’ll enjoy his well-earned retirement.

But I will miss seeing him pitch.  And I’m sorry that his arm wouldn’t let him have just one good, solid year before he had to contemplate the final, drastic step of retirement.  Much less carry it out.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Quick Hits, August ’12, pt. 2

leave a comment »

Folks, it’s been a few days between blogs, mostly because I’ve had much to do and little time to do it in.  But I do have a few things to discuss, so let’s get to it.

Congratulations go out to Seattle Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez, who pitched a perfect game on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, against the Tampa Bay Rays.  (One of the many excellent stories about Hernandez’s perfecto can be found here.)  This was the third perfect game thrown this season by major league pitchers, and it’s already one more than was thrown in the entire 2011 season.

On a milder note, but staying with baseball, congratulations should also be given to Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/right fielder Corey Hart.  Hart, you see, hit a grand slam home run in the eighth inning last night against the Philadelphia Phillies; that grand slam home run was the difference in a 7-4 win for the Brewers.  (And to think that Hart had been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts before that, though that’s a bit deceptive as Hart’s previous three at-bats had come against Phillies ace Cliff Lee.)

And in more baseball news, former Brewers ace Ben Sheets, now with the Atlanta Braves, currently has a 4-2 record with a 2.13 ERA in 38 innings pitched; Sheets has also given up 8 walks and has marked 28 strikeouts during that time.  (An excellent article from Bleacher Report about Sheets’s comeback is available here, if you’re interested.)  Sheets’s comeback has proven to be “the real deal” and I couldn’t be happier for him (in my view, once a Brewer, always a Brewer; best of all in Sheets’s case, he’s on a contending team).

Finally, the Racine Concert Band will play its final summer concert this Sunday at the Racine Zoo.  (Showtime is 7 p.m.)  So if you’re in the mood for a free concert, please be sure to stop on by and listen to the band.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 17, 2012 at 6:01 am

Ben Sheets’s Comeback Continues: Sheets Wins Again

leave a comment »

Today, July 21, 2012, was the day for Ben Sheets’s second major league start for the Atlanta Braves against the Washington Nationals.  And once again, Sheets pitched like the ace he once was (and apparently is again), giving up no runs, five hits, three walks, and six strikeouts.  Sheets also extended his scoreless innings streak to twelve; his record is now 2-0.

Here’s a link to a very good story from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Sheets that was written prior to today’s game; this is a story you really want to read if you care about baseball at all, as it references exactly what happened to Sheets and why it is so remarkable that he’s been able to come back at all — much less pitch at an astonishingly high level.

Here’s a quote from that story:

Understand, this isn’t a simple comeback. Before surgery in 2010, Sheets’ right elbow looked like the after-shot of Kabul. The guy is relatively bionic. In 2010, doctors knew surgery was needed to fix a torn flexor tendon for the second time in two years. But when Dr. Keith Meister opened up the right arm, two other problems were confirmed: 1) a torn ulnar collateral ligament, requiring Tommy John surgery; 2) damage to his pronator tendon.

You don’t need to have a Ph.D or even excel in the “Operation” game to know that if a 32-year-old pitcher is having a ligament and two tendons in his throwing elbow stitched, tied and duct-taped, his next career decision likely would involve either starting a tractor or coaching youth baseball (he opted for the latter).

And here’s a quote from today’s story at Yahoo Sports regarding Sheets’s start against the Nationals, starring Braves catcher Brian McCann:

”It’s been a huge pickup for us,” McCann said of adding Sheets to Braves rotation. ”To come out here for his two starts and pitch the way he has. Hasn’t given up a run, he’s pounding the zone and the more you’re around him the more you know why he’s so successful. He’s a competitor, he knows what he’s doing.”

When a team’s catcher is happy with a pitcher — much less this happy — you usually have a happy team.  And considering how well Sheets has pitched since his return, I’d be astonished if the Braves weren’t absolutely ecstatic about his contribution to their ballclub.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Ben Sheets On the Comeback Trail; Wins First Start Since 2010

leave a comment »

Today, Ben Sheets won his first start since 2010 — his first start since returning from the most extensive arm surgery in the history of major league baseball in mid-2010 — as he led the Atlanta Braves to a 6-1 win over the New York Mets.  Sheets pitched six scoreless innings, threw 88 pitches (57 for strikes), gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out five.

As Atlanta SB Nation.com put it, “Ben Sheets probably couldn’t have imagined a better debut.” 

Carroll Rodgers, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said this about Sheets’s debut start:

Sheets threw a 91 mph strike to Ruben Tejada to start his day, setting up his first strikeout, and finished it with a 91 mph fastball to strike out David Wright for his fifth. Sheets allowed only two hits in between, while walking one, and threw 57 of his 88 pitches for strikes. He outdueled Johan Santana to win his first game since July 10, 2010 with Oakland against the Angels.

Rodgers also mentioned this toward the end of his blog post:

Sheets, who hadn’t pitched since July 19, 2010 for the Athletics, showed what the Braves have been raving about in his work on the side and in the minors. His fastball velocity was back to 90-92 mph, and he reached back and found 93 mph a few times, which he used to retire Wright. He also mixed in a sharp curveball that he was known for on those days like the one when he struck out 18 Braves in 2004.

Rodgers also had quotes from Sheets in this article, also from the AJC:

“It was pretty incredible,” Sheets said afterward. “Honestly in my mind, two years ago I was done, which was fine. I gave myself ‘coach of the year’ award in youth ball. Somebody asked me ‘Who gives that?’ I said ‘I give it to myself.’”

(Note that Sheets has never been known for his humility, which is why this quote made me laugh out loud.)

Another quote from Sheets, also from Rodgers’s second article at the AJC:

“I feel like myself,” said Sheets, who out-dueled Johan Santana for his first win since July 10, 2010 with the Athletics. “That’s one thing I can say I never felt like in Oakland.”

And here’s a quote from long-time Braves star (and likely Hall of Famer) Chipper Jones:

“We are ecstatic,” Jones said. “We get contributions like that from him, I see us winning a lot of games here in the second half.”

See, the Braves see Sheets as what he is: an ace.  Sheets also is the type of guy who would not have come back unless he felt he could pitch extremely well — it’s either all or nothing with Sheets, and it’s always been that way.  So the Braves, who apparently kept a close eye on Sheets once Sheets’s agent Casey Close started putting out feelers earlier this year regarding a potential comeback, has shown itself to be extremely prescient in signing Sheets.

As far as the Milwaukee Brewers go (Sheets’ old team), they won today, too.  Yovani Gallardo had 14 strikeouts in a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Gallardo is one of two aces on the Brewers current staff; his record raised to 8-6.

But the day belonged to Sheets, all the way along . . . and this Brewers fan couldn’t be happier.  Way to go, Ben!

Ben Sheets Signed by Atlanta Braves to Minor League Deal

leave a comment »

Folks, Ben Sheets’ comeback is official, as he’s been signed by the Atlanta Braves to a minor league deal as of last evening (Sunday, July 1, 2012).  Here’s a quote from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, which is here:

“We’re getting a guy who is a four-time All-Star and there is nothing wrong with his arm,” Wren said. “You have a quality major league pitcher prior to the deadline without having to give up any talent. It really is the best of all worlds.”

Sheets is scheduled to make at least two starts in Double-A Mississippi, largely because it’s only 90 minutes from his home in Louisiana. He’ll go five innings or 75 pitches on Wednesday, then six innings or 90 pitches in a start after that. If all goes well, the Braves think he could be ready shortly after the All-Star break.

This all bodes well for Sheets, as the Braves’ team philosophy is one Sheets can get behind.  Plus, the Braves obviously haven’t forgotten the fact that Sheets once struck out eighteen of them on May 17, 2004 and seem to want Sheets on their side if he can indeed make a comeback a la former Milwaukee Brewers teammate (and pitcher) Chris Capuano.

Best of luck, Ben, with your comeback efforts.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Former Brewer Pitcher Ben Sheets to Make Comeback at age 33

leave a comment »

In August of 2010, I wrote a blog about former Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Ben Sheets, who had just had a major surgical procedure on his right arm (called at that time the “most massive surgery in the history of pitching” by the Hardball Talk blog.)  At that time, I said that I hoped Sheets would be like former Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano, who has come all the way back after two “Tommy John” procedures and is now pitching extremely effectively for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

About one year ago, I wrote a blog after finding out that Sheets was doing rehabilitation in Arlington, TX.  I said at that time that it would make no sense for Sheets to be doing rehabilitation if he wasn’t planning on making a comeback.

Well, my blog posts have been trumped by Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, who wrote that on June 13, 2012, Sheets threw in front of scouts in Monroe, Louisiana.  The four teams represented were the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Atlanta Braves.**  

The team that signs Sheets will have a proven ace who in the past made four All-Star teams (Sheets started the All-Star game for the National League in 2008).  Because Sheets is a hard-nosed, tough-minded competitor, he should be able to help just about any team win some ballgames down the stretch if he’s able to pitch effectively.

Sheets’ road to recovery most likely will start in the minor leagues, as that’s the path every pitcher who’s been able to make a comeback (such as Capuano) has taken.  But providing Sheets is patient and works his way back into top form, it’s possible for Sheets to become the same, effective pitcher as before (perhaps with a little less heat on the fastball, but he should be able to compensate for that with guile).

Chris Capuano has proven that it is indeed possible for a pitcher in his early 30s to come back from an extensive surgical procedure and pitch just as well if not better than ever.  So if Sheets takes “Cappy” as a model, and gives himself time, he could still have several more years in the big leagues left.

Here’s hoping.

————

** Note that the team that originally signed Sheets, the Brewers, was not on this list.  I’m not pleased about that, but my best guess is that the Brewers need so much other help that they don’t see how Sheets could possibly fit into their plans.  I view that as shortsighted, shoddy thinking, especially because the Brewers did sign Capuano to a minor league deal in 2010 (which worked out extremely well), which is why the Brewers know that it is indeed possible for a pitcher who’s sustained horrific arm injuries more than once to come back stronger than ever. 

But I’m not the ones making the calls in the Brewers front office.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Brian Sabean Goes Ballistic re: Posey/Cousins collision; also, a Ben Sheets update

with 2 comments

What on Earth has gotten into Brian Sabean?

Sabean is the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants, and is mad as Hell over the 5/25/11 collision between Florida Marlins catcher Scott Cousins (who was trying to score a run) and Giants catcher Buster Posey (who was trying to block home plate and keep Cousins from scoring).  Posey sustained a serious injury and is now out for the season; for more on his injury, check out this article.

Now, I can understand why Giants fans — and most baseball fans in general — want Buster Posey to play, not see him sitting on the DL with a long-term injury to deal with.  He’s an exciting young player and fans love him.  I also can understand why the Giants, and Sabean in particular, would be angry that Posey was injured, especially as some others, including Mike Matheny, seem to believe that Cousins was most definitely at fault in that collision and that Cousins may well have been trying to injure Posey (even though Cousins insists he wasn’t and has apologized several times; check this article out if you don’t believe me).

But why this sort of incendiary rhetoric, all available at this link?

Sabean did not pull any punches during an interview on KNBR on Thursday, calling Cousins’ targeted hit “malicious” and saying he didn’t blame Posey for refusing to return an apologetic phone call.

“Why not be hard-nosed?” Sabean said. “If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.”

Asked if perhaps those words were too harsh, Sabean didn’t back down. In fact, he left little doubt that the Giants are bent on getting some on-field vengeance.

“He chose to be a hero in my mind, and if that’s his flash of fame, that’s as good as it’s going to get, pal,” Sabean said. “We’ll have a long memory. Believe me, we’ve talked to (former catcher Mike) Matheny about how this game works. You can’t be that out-and-out overly aggressive. I’ll put it as politically as I can state it: There’s no love lost, and there shouldn’t be.”

Now, the Giants have apologized for Sabean’s comments, which to my mind is way too little, way too late, especially as Cousins has been getting death threats; see this link for details about that.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Joe Torre, who now works for Major League Baseball, wants to talk with Sabean (see this link for details).  Torre is a well-respected former manager and catcher, and knows the game as well as anyone living; Sabean should listen to Torre, who I hope will tell Sabean the equivalent of this:  “Shut up.  Shut up now.  Don’t be any more stupid than you have to be; you’ve already said more than enough as it is.”

Torre telling Sabean off is the best thing to do — but in case Torre’s message doesn’t take, I hope Torre will exercise his authority and suspend Brian Sabean as a fine, no matter how hefty, will not do.  Sabean’s comments should not be tolerated, no matter how frustrated Sabean is, and no matter how much Sabean appreciates Posey’s play (or Posey’s positive effect at the box office).

Now for something completely different, as I’d like to pass along some good news regarding Ben Sheets. 

As previously reported, Sheets had a huge surgery on his elbow last year and his prospects for playing at all in 2011 looked dubious.  While I’m not sure if he will be able to pitch this year, I did find one Web site, here, that says Sheets is rehabbing in Arlington, Texas as of March of this year — and Sheets wouldn’t be rehabbing so seriously if he wasn’t at least going to try to make a comeback ASAP.

Sheets being in Texas makes perfect sense for a wide variety of reasons.  Sheets’ home is in Louisiana, so Texas isn’t all that far away, comparatively; better yet, it’s where his former Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux now makes his home (as the pitching coach for the Rangers, naturally).  It also seems that Sheets is comfortable with the doctors in Texas and that his rehab is proceeding well.

All I can say is this — good for you, Ben, and I truly hope you’ll be like Chris Capuano this time next year.  (As in, you’ve made it all the way back, you’re pitching as well or better than ever, and your second major rehab stint will have gone successfully.)

Persistence Pays Off, Part II — Chris Capuano Wins Again. Also Ben Sheets Surgery Update.

with 5 comments

This past week hasn’t been much fun; I celebrated my birthday while dealing with a nasty sinus infection, and thus my blog was inactive during that time as I hadn’t much to write about — or at any rate, what I would’ve tried to write wouldn’t have made much sense due to feeling so terrible.

But last night, I had another epiphany, and thus, a second blog post about Brewers left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano.  Capuano, as you might recall, has returned to the major leagues after having a second “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery performed in mid-2008.  His rehabilitation was extensive, and without a whole lot of faith in himself, along with a great deal of hard work rehabilitating his surgically-repaired left arm, he’d never have returned to pitch again, period — much less in the majors.

But he has, and he has pitched for the most part with amazing efficiency — or to be less unnecessarily wordy, he’s been very good indeed, one of the best pitchers the Brewers have had during this lost season of 2010.

Last evening, Capuano came in after Yovani Gallardo — the Brewers’ best starting pitcher, and their supposed “ace” of the staff thereby — gave up six earned runs (ERs) in only three and one third innings pitched.  He left the bases loaded, too, meaning if those runners had scored, nine runs would’ve been charged to Gallardo.

So what did Capuano do?  He mopped up the damage, that’s what.  He got out of the fourth inning with none of Gallardo’s runs scoring — and pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball.  Eleven men up, and eleven men down — no hits, only one walk, and one double-play ball which wiped the walk off the board.

This was Chris Capuano’s first win at Miller Park since May of 2007.  And in it, he also went one for two in hitting — getting his first hit in the bigs since 2007.  See this post about the game, although it did not stress enough to my mind the magnitude of Chris Capuano’s second win:

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/101197154.html

At any rate, you probably see where, if Chris Capuano were a different sort of person, all that rehab might’ve put him off from returning to baseball.  You can also see that Chris Capuano, fortunately for the Brewers, has more dedication, drive and determination than most people — because it’s incredibly difficult to recuperate from one “Tommy John” surgical procedure to pitch well.  It’s even more difficult to recover from two.

Chris Capuano’s stats for the season are now two wins, two losses.  He’s started two games, winning one, losing one.  He has a 3.86 ERA in 28 innings pitched, with 8 walks, 27 strikeouts (Ks), and has given up three home runs.  These may not seem like outstanding stats, but consider how hard this man has worked — then consider the Brewers staff pitching ERA average of 4.90, and the fact that only Yovani Gallardo, Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe and John Axford have lower ERAs on the entire Brewers staff of thirteen pitchers.

Chris Capuano is now thirty-two years old.  He’s recovered from two surgeries that are life-altering for pitchers; usually, if a pitcher works hard and is fortunate, he can recover from one such procedure.  Only rarely has a pitcher recovered from two on the same arm — and Chris Capuano is, if not the first, possibly the second pitcher in the majors to have returned from two “Tommy John” surgeries.

I mention this because another of my favorite players, former Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets, recently had a surgery so extensive that it was reported by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Web site www.sfgate.com) as a “surgery (that) involved every structure in the elbow — both tendons and the ligament — ” that Slusser was:

“amazed he was pitching with that kind of damage, and he wasn’t getting shelled; he was adequate.  That’s extraordinary.  There was basically nothing working in his elbow.”

The rest of Slusser’s blog from 8/11/10 is available here:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/athletics/detail?entry_id=69876

Sheets, like Capuano, is thirty-two years old.   He’ll be nearly thirty-four (and that only because he has a July birthday)  if — and when — he can attempt a comeback.   His surgery has been called the “most extensive” in the history of baseball — this headline at NBC Sports Hardball Talk on 8/11/2010 says it all:

Ben Sheets just had the most massive surgery in the history of pitching

Or how about this headline from the Contra Costa Times of 8/11/2010 — 

A’s update: Pitcher Ben Sheets faces long odds after undergoing Tommy John surgery

http://www.contracostatimes.com/sports/ci_15749396?source=rss&nclick_check=1

This article points out that Sheets is looking at nearly a two-year rehab cycle to rehab his surgically repaired right elbow, complete with both tendons and the “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery.   And he’s a pitcher, unlike Capuano, who’s always relied on his plus-fastball and his plus-curveball (meaning he throws high heat, really fast, over 90 mph fastballs with serious movement on them, and the curveball he has moves so much that it’s not only hard to hit, it’s hard to catch, besides) to win in major league ball, whereas Capuano was always a control pitcher.  These surgeries do take a toll on the arm and they do lower the velocity on the fastball for most pitchers; it will be harder for Sheets to be effective in the majors afterward even if his rehab goes successfully.  (As I sincerely hope it will.)

Sheets ended his season with a 4.53 ERA, a 4-9 record (a bit deceptive; the A’s didn’t give Sheets much in the way of run support), and a walks plus hits per inning (WHIP) rating of 1.39, the highest in his career.  But as Ms. Slusser said, basically nothing was working in Sheets’ elbow; it’s amazing Sheets struck out 84 guys while walking 43 in 119 1/3 innings, considering that datum.

At any rate, Chris Capuano was always known to Brewers fans as a “workout warrior” while Ben Sheets was considered, at best, to be a guy who would rather pitch than do running, stretching, weight training, or anything else pitchers are supposed to do these days to keep themselves in shape.  This perception of Sheets by Brewers fans is probably less than accurate, especially considering Sheets’ recovery from his surgery after the 2008 season for a torn labrum (a different elbow ailment) took all of 2009 to rehab.  So it’s obvious Sheets can and will rehabilitate serious injuries — the main question here is, can he do it twice, as has Capuano?  And can he do it at an advanced age for any pitcher, much less a power pitcher like Ben Sheets?

Granted, Capuano (who’s now 32) was able to come back from two serious surgeries.  But it took him nearly two years the second time, and he had to swallow a great deal of pride, no doubt, when he signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in ’09 (he was in the low minors, mostly rehabilitating, toward the end of August last year), then again in ’10.

Chris Capuano has shown that it’s possible for someone with a strong will and a strong gift to win out over a recalcitrant body.  I hope Ben Sheets will be able to do the same; I hope his body will let him.   I do know that Sheets should be well aware of Capuano and the struggles Capuano had returning to the majors, because Sheets and Capuano were teammates for many years, though were never known to be close friends.

At any rate, the lesson here for writers, or for anyone at all, is the same as my first post about Chris Capuano — persist.  Keep trying.  Don’t give up.  Don’t lose hope.  Or if you do, shake it off and keep trying some more.  Because that is literally the only way — the only way — to win.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 22, 2010 at 2:16 am