Former All-Star right-hander Ben Sheets will have quite an audience when he takes the mound for a throwing session at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (his old alma mater) later today.
"They're going to like what they see," Sheets told ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian. "I feel fantastic."
Ever since ESPN announced the open audition a week ago, a growing number of teams have expressed interest in seeing how the 31-year-old former Milwaukee Brewer is recovering from an elbow surgery that kept him out of baseball the entire 2009 season.
The 10 teams confirmed to be sending scouts to today's workout include:
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chicago Cubs
- Cincinnati Reds
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Milwaukee Brewers
- New York Mets
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Texas Rangers
- Toronto Blue Jays
- MLB&id=3164&line=280900&spln=1">Washington Nationals
The former Olympic Gold Medal winner and top-10 draft pick has a long injury history, but has been brilliant when healthy.
Sheets has compiled an 86-83 record, a 3.72 ERA, and over 1,200 strikeouts in eight seasons, all with Milwaukee. His 3.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio is good for fifth best of all time.
The biggest knock on Sheets, besides his health, seems to be his asking price. Sources close to the Cubs (the first major player in the Ben Sheets sweepstakes) put his asking price in the $10-$12 million per season range.
Sheets made $11 million with the Brewers in 2008, compiling a 13-9 record in 31 appearances while pitching three shutouts.
The late-season elbow injury he's rehabbing kept him out of the Brewers' first playoff run in 25 years and voided a two-year deal with the Rangers that he signed that offseason.
Sheets isn't shy about his chances of making a comeback and returning to form.
As he told ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian, "I believe I can pitch the way I used to. Hey, Chris Carpenter came back and was dominant. As long as I believe I can do it, that's all that matters. Watch, I'll show 'em."