More thoughts on Sheets’ departure

Sheets may have been the only true veteran on the club’s pitching staff, and he may have been given the largest one-year contract the A’s have ever handed a free agent they signed from outside their organization. But, by night’s end, no one was talking about the numbers or the dollars. Sheets really gave the A’s so much more than that, and I think it goes without saying the clubhouse just won’t be the same anymore — not without Sheets there yelling, “Good morning, champions!”

Kurt Suzuki was asked about the loss of Sheets after tonight’s game, and before the question was finished, he blurted out a “Wow.” He said he hadn’t been told of the pitcher’s season-ending injury, which I think surprised all of us reporters. But once he regained his thoughts, here’s what he had to say about Ben:

“That’s a
bummer. We’re not just losing his arm. It’s more of his clubhouse leadership,
the role he plays on the team leadership-wise. He’s always upbeat. He’s always
going to pick up the team. He’s great to have around, especially for us young
players. It almost sounds corny, but he kind of brightens up your day when he
walks in because he always has something funny to say, and he’s always talking
loud, joking around. That’s the biggest thing, losing that leadership, because
that’s huge in baseball.”

I really can’t say whether Sheets will go through with another surgery or not. Even if he got it done fairly soon, I don’t know if he’d be ready to audition for another team before Spring Training. And, given, his recent history, I just don’t know that many teams would show up for the audition. Sheets, at least in my eyes, seems to be at peace with his situation. He wasn’t around to talk today, but when he was placed on the disabled list Saturday, there was a calm about him that reminded me of Eric Chavez during Spring Training. Eric made it known that he was content with whatever happened, whether he stayed healthy or not, because he knew he gave his team every effort possible. Sheets is the same way. He’d probably pitch until his arm fell off, but at the end of the day, he knew another injury to his elbow was possible. He also has two young kids, and when he wasn’t playing in 2009, he spent a lot of time with them at home, and he’s said before that he doesn’t regret the time missed on the field at all, mainly because of the time it allowed him with his family. So if he opts for retirement, which I’m fairly certain he’s considering, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. He basically pitched with pain all year, and for him to give the A’s the innings he did says a lot about his competitiveness.

I wish him the best, and I know he’ll make good out of any situation that comes his way in the future. 


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