The Milwaukee Brewers' injury-plagued right-hander suffered a slight groin strain Wednesday afternoon at the end of his third inning and made an early exit in what degenerated into an easy 9-3 victory for the Chicago Cubs at waterlogged Wrigley Field.
Sheets, 28, was looking forward to a healthy season after missing the last five weeks of 2005 with a torn muscle behind his pitching shoulder, leading to ongoing shoulder issues throughout last season. He pitched a complete-game two-hitter on opening day against Los Angeles, then experienced command problems in his next two starts (17 hits, 13 runs in 11 innings) before rebounding with a solid outing (seven innings, two runs) against Houston.
Sheets allowed four hits by the Cubs over three innings but pitched out of trouble to keep the score 0-0 before his early exit.
"I wasn't necessarily dominating but we had thrown up a couple of zeros," said Sheets. "That's what we were out there to do.
"I actually felt pretty good out there. That's why it sucked that I had to come out."
Sheets wasn't sure exactly how he suffered the injury. He didn't remember feeling it on his last pitch of the inning and thought it might have happened when he turned to watch Derrek Lee's grounder to short for the final out.
"It just grabbed me for some reason," he said. "I don't recall doing anything. I'm sure the elements played a part in some of that.
"It wasn't that it was excruciating by any means. But there was really no sense in pushing through it and taking that chance this early, especially with the weather as it was."
Sheets briefly lobbied to stay in the game, but Yost, pitching coach Mike Maddux and trainer Roger Caplinger didn't want to hear it, not at this early stage of the season.
Read more here from TOM HAUDRICOURT'S article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: