Even though I’ve mentioned how little I weigh spring training results, I have to admit I was interested to see how Ben Sheets fared in his first start for the Oakland A’s. The fact that the start came against the Brewers just added to the intrigue — it’s just a shame that the game doesn’t mean much in the long run.
There was a lot of speculation about Sheets’ feelings towards the club (and the fans) after the way he left town. Thankfully, it appears there are no hard feelings, even if the end of the relationship left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths.
“Y’all made a story that there was bad blood and all, and I don’t know where y’all dreamed that up. Maybe at nighttime,” Sheets said. “There was zero bad blood. [Brewers general manager] Doug Melvin was in a no-win situation. If he signed me and I got hurt, what happens? He looks like an idiot. If he didn’t sign me and I came out last year and pitched great… What did you want him to do? There were never any hard feelings. We worked together for eight years and they were eight great years.”
Ben’s never been the most articulate guy in the world, but to me, those comments showed incredible perspective. He was always criticized by casual fans for not seeming to care enough about his injury problems, but this shows just the opposite. He knows that his injury problems hurt the team, and even in 2008 you could tell it killed him to see his teammates on the field for the playoffs while he was unable to help.
Sheets’ debut today was a bit rough — 1.2 IP, 4 hits and 2 runs allowed with only one strikeout — but the results aren’t important. Not in the spring, and especially not this early in the spring when he hasn’t pitched in over a year. What is important is that he seems to be in good spirits, and the A’s have an ace at a discount price (or, at the very least, one of July’s most intruiging trade chips…again).
So here’s another thank you to Ben Sheets for his time in Milwaukee, and all the good luck wishes in the world. I know I’m not the only Brewers fan that will be pulling for the A’s this year when he’s on the mound. It’s just a shame that we probably won’t get to see him pitch against the Brewers again anytime soon — while the Brewers play the AL West in interleague play this year, they don’t play Oakland. Is it too late to trade one of those series against the Twins for a series with the A’s?