On Sunday, after a couple days of reassurances that Sheets' prospects were looking good, the team made it very clear that its ace will be on the hill in Chicago.
Bush turned out to be the surprising odd man out, optioned to Triple-A Nashville after Sunday's game, two days before outfielder Mike Cameron is slated to rejoin the team. The club had been carrying 14 pitchers and 11 position players for the past week, and manager Ned Yost said before the game that Cameron's roster spot would belong to a hurler, thus bringing the roster into greater balance.
"It's a hard decision to make, but as an organization, we would much rather have Dave Bush pitching [on a regular schedule]," Yost said. "Odds are, it's going to be a very short stay down there, and we'd rather pitch him on his regular rotation than sit him and not pitch him in the long role.
"It's to all of our benefit, as hard and painful as a decision like this is, to go and get a couple of starts. If something happens, we can bring him right back. He's struggled in the beginning, and it's gotten to the point where he's starting to get more mechanically sound and more consistent, and I just think it's going to happen for him."
Bush received a no-decision Wednesday against Philadelphia after allowing four runs in six innings, bringing his ERA to 6.75 in four trips to the mound. Bush (0-3) has been bitten by an uncharacteristic amount of walks -- 12 in 22 2/3 innings.
The 28-year-old made that last start filling in for Sheets, whose turn was skipped after he experienced tightness in his right triceps. The ailment was partially responsible for the team's decision to carry 14 pitchers, as it prevented the team from putting Sheets on the disabled list.
Bush has not pitched in a Minor League game since 2005, and has since made 67 starts for the Brewers since they acquired him as part of the deal that sent Lyle Overbay to Toronto.
"There's been a lot of guys who have done it, a lot of veteran guys," Yost said. "Cliff Lee and Oliver Perez, these guys have spent a lot of time in the big leagues, gone back down [to the Minors] and gotten it straightened out, and came back with wonderful results. That's what we're looking for here. It doesn't make it any easier, though.
A surprised Bush might agree.
"I guess in some respect you're prepared for it, but I guess you're prepared for anything," said Bush. "Not necessarily this particular situation, but I try not to be too surprised by anything.
"It's a situation where I had options left, and when that's the case, they can do whatever they want," Bush said. "I'm the odd man out this time, I guess."
Bush conceded that the game was about performance at all levels, but he would not have minded the long-relief role for which he appeared ticketed.
"No one prefers going to the Minors instead of going to the bullpen," he said.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less