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Sheets meets again with hometown Rangers

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[January 24, 2009]  ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Free agent right-hander Ben Sheets met again this week with the Texas Rangers, the team that plays not far from his Dallas home. "It was part of doing our due diligence," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Friday. "Just continued dialogue, really."

Sheets also met with Daniels at the winter meetings last month. This time, there was a dinner Wednesday night that included team owner Tom Hicks, team president Nolan Ryan, manager Ron Washington and new pitching coach Mike Maddux, who was with Sheets in Milwaukee the past six seasons.

Daniels described the meeting as "positive," but wouldn't say whether the Rangers have made a formal offer to Sheets.

"I wouldn't say we're in any different position today than we were before that," Daniels said.

Sheets was 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts last season for the Brewers, and was the NL starter in the All-Star game. The 30-year-old Sheets has an 86-83 record and a 3.72 ERA in 221 starts with 1,206 strikeouts and 313 walks over the past eight seasons, all in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee already lost CC Sabathia in free agency after he agreed to a $161 million, seven-year deal with the New York Yankees. Because they offered salary arbitration to Sheets, the Brewers will receive compensatory draft picks if he signs somewhere else.


"We're ready to go to camp with the group we've got," Daniels said. "We're still looking at some external possibilities, and it's a poorly kept secret that he's on that list."

Texas led the majors in scoring and batting average last season, but also had the highest ERA and finished with another losing record, their eighth in nine seasons since their last playoff appearances.

Sheets would definitely provide a boost to a Rangers rotation currently topped by Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, but there have been some health issues in the past.

Sheets has been on the disabled list five times in the past four seasons. He was on the DL with a sprained middle finger last season, and was also bothered by issues with his elbow, biceps, groin and hamstring.

Daniels said Rangers doctors have reviewed Sheets' medical records, but the GM wouldn't comment on the pitcher's health. Sheets has not undergone a physical for the Rangers.

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Maddux was in town this week for a winter development camp for younger Rangers pitchers. Among the 18 at the weeklong camp were touted prospects, including four of the team's former first-round picks.

Surprised that Sheets was still available, Maddux pointed out all the other players still unsigned.

"It surprises me that a lot of those guys are out there," Maddux said. "I think every team would like to have a Ben Sheets."

Notes:@ The Rangers will have new home, road and alternate uniforms this season. The most significant changes are having "Texas" instead of "Rangers" across the front of the home jerseys, and the addition of a solid red alternate home jersey. The last time the team had a solid red top was 1984. The red jerseys will be worn for the home opener on April 6 and for all Saturday night games at Rangers Ballpark. ... All-Star 2B Ian Kinsler, who missed the final six weeks of last season because of a sports hernia, said he is "100 percent healthy" while going through offseason workouts. ... CF Josh Hamilton has already been in Arizona for three weeks, where he is working out up to seven hours a day. ... Free-agent RHP Jason Jennings threw off a mound Friday at Rangers Ballpark. Season-ending elbow surgery cut short each of his past two seasons, when he was a combined 2-14 with a 6.91 ERA.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN HAWKINS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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