Sheets 'up in the air' for weekend start vs. Cubs

MILWAUKEE -- If the Milwaukee Brewers ever needed a strong outing from oft-injured ace Ben Sheets, it would be this weekend.

But after throwing a short bullpen session Thursday, Sheets isn't sure if the sore elbow that has bothered him for more than a week will be ready in time for him to face the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

"This one's up in the air," Sheets said.

At this point, so is Milwaukee's first playoff appearance since 1982. The Brewers entered Thursday night's game against Pittsburgh tied with the New York Mets for the NL wild card.

Speaking before Sheets' bullpen session, interim manager Dale Sveum said Dave Bush likely would start Saturday -- but left open the possibility of bringing Sheets back instead.

"If he says, 'Man, I feel like I did two weeks ago,' we're going to have make a decision, obviously," Sveum said.

Sheets, who left last Wednesday's game at Chicago because of elbow soreness, said he felt "fine" Thursday. But the right-hander only threw about 20 pitches and didn't push his arm past 75 percent.

"It's been a while, so I've just got to get my feet back under me," Sheets said. "The only day that matters is Saturday."

Sheets said he kept the session short mostly to rest his elbow.

"Any overuse injury, rest is going to be your main ingredient to getting better," Sheets said.

Sveum said he assumes Sheets will say he can play, but feels the need to "look in his eyes" and determine if Sheets really is ready.

"He's going to have to be really honest with this one, because that game's going to mean everything in the world," Sveum said.

No matter what happens Saturday, Sveum said he will bring CC Sabathia back on three days' rest Sunday if a playoff berth -- or potential wild-card tiebreaker game -- is on the line.

"If we have to? No doubt about it," Sveum said. "If it means going to the playoffs, or going to a playoff game, you've got to throw your best pitcher out there."