Sheets not thinking about contract yearPHOENIX — Ben Sheets thinks separating money from pitching is no big deal.
By: By COLIN FLY/AP Sports Writer, The Daily Telegram
PHOENIX — Ben Sheets thinks separating money from pitching is no big deal.
‘‘To me, the business end is totally different than the baseball end,’’ said Sheets, entering the final season of a $38.5 million, four-year contract. ‘‘I’ve never worried about it and I’m not going to worry about any of that. It has no bearing on how I play the game or anything else for that matter.’’
The three-time All-Star could be in line for a hefty contract — if he stays healthy. He’s averaged 13 missed starts a year during the past three seasons.
‘‘There ain’t nothing you can do about it. People want to say whatever, look at it either way,’’ Sheets said in his Louisiana drawl. ‘‘There’s going to be topics and it’s nothing to do with me. It might be about me, but it’s nothing to do with me.’’
Sheets never won more than 12 games in his first seven seasons in Milwaukee. He’s got a career 73-74 record with a 3.83 ERA.
‘‘He’s an All-Star when he’s healthy. Everybody sees that. If he gets 34 starts, he’s one of the top 10 pitchers in the game,’’ general manager Doug Melvin said. ‘‘When he doesn’t, he’s been a 12-game winner.’’
After striking out 264 while compiling a 2.70 ERA on a 94-loss team in 2004, Sheets has been sidelined by an inner ear infection, a torn back muscle, a right shoulder strain, tendinitis in the shoulder and a sprained right middle finger.
‘‘The inner ear, the finger, tearing the lat on the 100th pitch, I don’t think there’s anything I’m going to do (to prevent those),’’ Sheets said. ‘‘You can be injury-prone or not on the field, whatever you want to call it, but when you ain’t on the field, you ain’t on the field.’’
Sheets went 12-5 last season in 24 starts. He’s been working on an arm slot that he says feels good. Since he primarily uses fastballs with a big curveball, he’s excited by the movement he has seen so far on his heater.
‘‘It looks to me like the life is good at the end of the pitch, that’s a big plus. I’m pretty excited about that,’’ Sheets said. ‘‘The ball’s got finish on it at the end and I think it’s a good arm slot. I’ve been there, it’s been an arm slot that I’ve been in before, the one that I like, it’s just hard to get in it.’’
When Geoff Jenkins’ option was declined in the offseason, Sheets became the longest-tenured Brewer.
‘‘The good thing about that is I get to play with some young guys that can play baseball and see this place change,’’ Sheets said.
While Jenkins emerged into the clubhouse leader before giving way to Prince Fielder, Sheets has remained relatively low-key.
‘‘I come in here and try to do my job and try to make people comfortable,’’ Sheets said.
‘‘The more comfortable people are, the more people have fun. To me, everybody’s paid their dues when they get up here.’’
Sheets does have one big responsibility.
He’s the commissioner of the hotly contested clubhouse fantasy football league, something he was forced to do starting in his second year.
Former reliever Scott Linebrink won the league last year, but Linebrink left for the White Sox and Sheets still has the cash.
‘‘I ain’t paying him. I’m holding onto his money,’’ Sheets said.