Inner ear problem has sidelined pitcher a month

MILWAUKEE -- Ben Sheets donned a New Orleans Saints football
helmet when pitchers' batting practice started Friday night. The
clubhouse clown is back, even if he's still not quite himself.

The Milwaukee Brewers' ace declared himself ready to return to
the rotation after spending more than a month on the disabled list
with an inner ear problem that caused him to lose his balance.

"The dizziness is totally gone," he said. "It might be a
little fogginess or something."

Sheets, who's been on the DL since April 21, will be activated
in time to face the Houston Astros on Saturday night. The Brewers
optioned right-handed reliever Mike Adams to Triple-A Nashville on
Friday despite his 2.70 ERA.

If it were up to Sheets, he'd have been back on the mound weeks
ago: ready or not.

"I've been trying to convince them forever," Sheets said.
"They don't believe me anymore."

That's probably because the last time he said he was ready, he
turned around and walked into a door.

Sheets, who was hospitalized in the early stages of his illness
because he had vertigo, said that while he's still foggy, he can
react quickly enough to a comebacker and can field his position
without any problems.

"If I've got the ability to see where I'm throwing and can
focus and concentrate and move around freely, I mean, I don't know
what else I need to play baseball?" Sheets said. "As long as I
don't close my eyes, I'm great. And I don't close my eyes when I

He acknowledged some trepidation about facing hitters again,

"I'm always nervous," Sheets said. "But I'm excited to help
out this team. They've played great. As a matter of fact, when I
left we were five games under (.500), so maybe I should stay out."

Sheets had the inner ear inflammation after contracting a cold
in mid-April. The same thing happened to him last year, sidelining
him about a week.