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Notes: Sheets ready to start Tuesday

Notes: Sheets ready to start Tuesday

MILWAUKEE -- Ben Sheets was declared a "go" for his start on Tuesday against the Cardinals after undergoing a battery of tests Monday to test the strength of his strained right groin muscle.

"I'm going to pitch tomorrow," Sheets said before Monday's game.

Sheets left his last start Wednesday at Chicago after three innings because of the injury, but an MRI scan Thursday revealed no significant damage, and a bullpen session Saturday went well. The final hurdles were cleared Monday, when Sheets took part in fielding drills and batting practice, then was examined by head team physician William Raasch.

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The team took a cautious approach, according to manager Ned Yost.

"We are taking zero chances with him," Yost said. "If Dr. Raasch says it's safe enough to pitch, then that is good enough for me.

"I trust Benny, and he says he doesn't feel a thing. We put him through a really hard workout today on the field to make sure that he couldn't replicate or feel that pain. He felt good and strong. He bounced around out there pretty good."

Sheets' final stop Monday may have been the most important. Without Raasch's blessing, the Brewers likely would have called up a pitcher from Triple-A Nashville to start Tuesday. The most likely in-house candidate, right-hander Carlos Villanueva, threw 40 pitches in 2 1/3 innings during Sunday's win in Houston.

Left-hander Zach Jackson is scheduled to start Tuesday for Nashville and likely would have been the choice. Jackson went 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance for the Brewers last season.

Or, the Brewers could have asked Nashville to hold back Monday starter Yovani Gallardo, the organization's top pitching prospect. The Sounds are in Des Moines, Iowa this week.

Condolences: Yost chatted briefly with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and La Russa's coaches on Monday afternoon and passed along condolences. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident early Sunday morning, and the Cubs-Cardinals game was postponed.

"At this level, you really do think you're invincible, and when something like this happens, it kind of brings you back to reality," Yost said. "It's very heartbreaking.

"There's a lot of emotions, and it's not just felt by the St. Louis Cardinals. It's felt all over baseball. ... It is a bit of a fraternity."

The Brewers and Cardinals have some close ties. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty go back to their days as farm directors in the 1980s, and have traveled with their families to Europe each of the last two winters. Yost and La Russa grew close after the Cardinals skipper asked Yost to serve as an honorary coach at the 2005 All-Star Game.

The teams have met amid tragedy before. In 2001, the Cardinals were in Milwaukee when the September 11 attacks took place and games were suspended for seven days. When play resumed, the Brewers were in St. Louis. After St. Louis pitcher Darryl Kile passed away on June 22, 2002, in a Chicago hotel room, the Cardinals' first home game was two days later, against the Brewers.

"It hits close to home with everybody when something like this happens," Yost said.

Hancock was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign. He was drafted by the Red Sox two years later and signed with them.

Weeks out: Milwaukee second baseman and leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks was out of the lineup for the second straight day on Monday and Yost revealed it was because of a bruised right index finger.

Weeks suffered the minor injury during the team's trip to Chicago last week when he reached into his glove and jammed his finger into the baseball. He aggravated it on Saturday in Houston and underwent X-rays, which were negative.

Asked if it was a big deal, Weeks responded, "Not at all. I could go play if they needed me."

"It's just sore to the touch," Yost said. "We're not going to take any chances with that. Let it heal up to where it doesn't hurt when he throws."

Weeks was available to pinch-hit but it left the Brewers with no backup infielders. Should they face an emergency, Bill Hall would come in from center field, Yost said.

Just passing through: Outfielder Laynce Nix was at Miller Park on Monday and will spend the next week preparing for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. Nix has been sidelined since mid-March by a strained oblique muscle.

"He's getting close to going on a rehab, so we wanted to check him here first," Melvin said.

Melvin said the team is still mulling Nix's destination. Catcher Angel Salome, who has been rehabbing an ankle injury in extended Spring Training, is expected to report to Class A Brevard County this week, Melvin said.

Last call: Corey Hart was not in the lineup again Monday but Yost insisted the outfielder is not injured. Hart did hurt his right wrist running the bases during the Brewers' last homestand and has been wearing a brace over his wrist. ... Prince Fielder's first-inning double gave the Brewers at least one two-bagger in each of their first 25 games this season. That's seven more games than the previous franchise record, set in 1994.

Up next: Sheets will face Cardinals right-hander Braden Looper in the second game of the series Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. CT. The game will be televised in high definition by FSN Wisconsin.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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