He was thought to be out of the game altogether. Ben Sheets had undergone not one, but two Tommy John
surgeries and upwards of nine surgeries on his pitching elbow in total depending on what reports you believe. The four-time All-Star was once one of the better pitchers in the game, but a series of injuries left him without a team and without the desire to play again – unless he was 100% healthy that is.
Well, Sheets is healthy. 100% healthy. He pitched in front of a few teams in search of his return to the Major Leagues. He got his shot with the Atlanta Braves on July 1st when he passed his physical and signed a minor league contract. Sheets made two appearances for the Braves Double-A affiliate in Mississippi before getting called up the Major League roster. Yesterday, Sheets made his final stop on his long, two-year journey back: The Pitcher’s Mound.
In six innings of work against the New York Mets, Sheets allowed no runs, gave up just two hits, and he struck out five. The performance was well beyond what anyone could have expected from the 33-year old righty. He last made an appearance in the big leagues on July 19, 2010 in Oakland.
Sheets picked up the win after the Braves exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fifth. Freddie Freeman drove in half of them with a three-run bomb. He commented about Sheets’ appearance with the Braves after the game.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Freeman said of his new teammate. “It didn’t look like he took two years off.”
The truth is, one start doesn’t prove much. However, in Sheets’ case, he doesn’t have much left to prove. He finished top-ten in Cy Young voting in 2004, he made his first All-Star Game in his rookie season of 2001. He underwent more surgeries than any human should have on their elbow – let alone any other body part. Yet, despite all that was put in his path to pitching again, Sheets stepped onto that mound at Turner Field in Atlanta. And at 1:35 PM ET, he was officially pitching in the Major Leagues again.
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