ATLANTA — Ben Sheets is ready to return to the majors for the first time in nearly two years.
Capping a long comeback from elbow surgery, the former Milwaukee ace will start for the Atlanta Braves on Sunday against the New York Mets.
“Everything’s working,” Sheets said Thursday. “Everything’s feeling great. I’ve been throwing the ball good. Keep making good pitches, you’ll get outs.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez liked what he saw from Sheets during a bullpen session before Atlanta’s off-day workout at Turner Field.
“I wasn’t watching anything other than that he felt good and all of a sudden, ‘Oh, my shoulder’s sore or my arm’s sore,’ ” Gonzalez said. “But he was fine and threw some pretty good curveballs.”
It will be Sheets’ first big league start since he and the Oakland Athletics lost 2-1 to Boston on July 19, 2010.
After that start, Sheets landed on the disabled list for the seventh time in his career, undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and torn elbow ligament.
Atlanta signed Sheets, who turns 34 next Wednesday, to a minor league contract on July 1. He made two starts for Double-A Mississippi, going 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 10⅔ innings. In eight seasons with Milwaukee and one with Oakland, the right-hander is 90-92 with a 3.79 ERA.
Gonzalez hopes Sheets can go five innings Sunday, but does not want him to surpass about 88 pitches.
“He’s really, really pumped up about pitching again,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t always get a second chance, and I think him two years of not pitching and then getting a little taste of it, I think is going to be good.”