Hirsh Feels Good In Return Against Brewers

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Milwaukee starting pitcher Ben Sheets hopes a slight change in his delivery angle will make up for what has been an injury-plagued couple of seasons.

The Brewers ace appeared as strong as ever, taking only 16 pitches to get through two perfect innings of a 6-3 loss to Colorado (2-1-1) on Saturday.

"I feel a little stronger and I am in a better arm slot which is why I feel stronger," Sheets said. "The ball is lively from that arm slot."

Sheets seeks repeat performances the rest of the spring after being bothered by shoulder, finger and hamstring issues the past few years.

The right-hander has not reached the 200-inning mark since the 2004 season because of health concerns, with shoulder ailments during the 2006 campaign slowing him down.

His fastball was working perfectly against the Rockies as he threw only two curve balls with Colorado hitting his pitches mostly on the ground early in the counts.

Sheets said he discovered the new right arm slotting position while throwing the ball against a wall one day.

"There is no reason I found it or how I found it, other than I just stumbled on it and I felt like it was a good slot," Sheets said. "It ended up being just what I was looking for."

Despite finger issues a year ago, the 29-year-old still went 12-5 with a 3.82 ERA.

Sheets finds himself needing to be impressive as he enters the final season of a 4-year, $38.5 million contract with the Brewers (1-2).

"I am going to go out and get ready for the season and pitch every five days and hopefully take the ball 30-plus times," Sheets said.

Colorado starting pitcher Jason Hirsh made his first appearance since being hit in the lower right leg against the Brewers on Aug. 7. He missed the rest of the season with a cracked fibula.

The first batter Hirsh faced this time was Rickie Weeks, who hit a line drive up the middle for a single.

"There were no flashbacks, but I thought about bringing catchers (gear) out there," Hirsh said jokingly.

Hirsh, who is battling for the No. 4 starter spot with the Rockies, was 5-7 with a 4.81 ERA a year ago. He did not allow a run, gave up two hits, struck out one and walked one against the Brewers.

"I felt good enough to go several more innings, but it is still early in the spring," Hirsh said.

Colorado did not get its first hit until Matt Holliday doubled and scored in the fifth. Holliday added a 2-run homer in the seventh off losing pitcher Scott Cassidy (0-1).

Todd Helton went 1-for-3 with a double, while Brad Hawpe was 1-for-2 with a triple and an RBI.

Milwaukee's Vino Rottino hit his first homer of the spring off Darren Clarke (1-0). Craig Counsell was 1-for-1 with a double, while Laynce Nix had a triple in his lone at-bat.