Sheets, Francis make opening spring starts 

March, 8, 2010
03/08/10
1:13
PM ET
It was a battle of past and present Milwaukee Brewers aces. Granted, it was only a spring training game last Friday, but it was fitting that Ben Sheets would make his Oakland A's debut against his old team, and also fitting that Yovani Gallardo would be the opposing pitcher.

Sheets, who missed the 2009 season after surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his (pitching) elbow, was predictably rusty in his return, giving up four hits and two runs -- one earned -- in 1 2/3 innings. He had a 35-pitch limit and was pulled after 32.

The veteran right-hander didn't show much feel or command, left a lot of his pitches up in the zone, and struggled to locate his breaking ball. He seemed to be fighting his mechanics a bit, even in the bullpen during warm-ups. Of course, that's not unexpected given his long layoff. We shouldn't read too much into his early struggles, and instead look at it as Sheets being pretty close to where he needs to be, especially considering it was still the first week of March.

To see more of Jason Grey's scouting report on the first spring starts from Ben Sheets, Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Francis, you must be an ESPN Insider.

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