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Pursuit of Sheets opens up for Texas

Pursuit of Sheets opens up for Texas

ARLINGTON -- The Yankees were believed to be one of the Rangers' potential competitors in the pursuit of free-agent pitcher Ben Sheets.

But they seemed to drop out of the picture on Monday when they re-signed pitcher Andy Pettitte to fill the last spot in their rotation. The Rangers view that as a good sign as they continue to show interest in Sheets.

"Anytime somebody signs another starting pitcher, that obviously lessens the competition," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said Monday afternoon. "Obviously, Andy and Ben are at two different points in their careers, but I don't think Andy signing hurts anything."

The Rangers are the only team that has publicly stated interest in Sheets, but the process continues to move slowly. The Rangers are still reviewing Sheets' medical history, and they are still reluctant to do a multiyear contract. Sheets is looking for at least a two-year deal while the Rangers so far have shown a willingness to do just one year with a possible club option.

There is uncertainty if that will get the job done, and club officials said nothing is imminent.

"He's looking for a multiyear deal," Ryan said. "That probably comes down to the medical review and what [owner Tom Hicks'] position will be."

Sheets was 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA for the Brewers in 2008 but ended the season with a torn tendon in his right elbow and that kept him from pitching in the playoffs. He has been on the disabled list five times in four years.

"Obviously, the reason he is still unsigned is because of his history," Ryan said. "All ballclubs are a little cautious in their actions right now. I'm sure he'll settle in with somebody."

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The New York Mets are believed to have interest but right now appear to be focused on left-hander Oliver Perez. There doesn't seem to be any other competition. The Brewers appear to be done for the offseason. Ryan and Hicks were among the Rangers officials who had dinner with Sheets and his agent Casey Close last week. Pitcher Kevin Millwood also spoke with Sheets while he was in town.

"I gave him my number and told him that I would be more than happy to answer them," Millwood said.

Millwood, who has been the Rangers' Opening Day pitcher for the past three seasons, said he would love to see the club add Sheets to the rotation. "I think it would be great for us if he's on our team," Millwood said. "I don't know what's going on with that, but he'll make us a better team."

T.R. Sullivan 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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