|Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton pulls out of scheduled first start since 2005|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 03 April 2008 14:10|
Hampton, scheduled to make his first start since Aug. 19, 2005, strained his left pectoral muscle while warming up in the bullpen before Atlanta's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was seen grimacing after throwing a pitch.
The Braves left-hander was listed as day to day.
Hampton has had other physical problems while trying to return after two elbow surgeries. He pitched only one inning in Mexico this winter before straining his hamstring when he slipped on the mound. He then strained his groin in the second inning of his second spring training game.
Hampton rebounded from the setbacks to post a 2.16 ERA in five spring starts. He entered the season as the Braves' No. 4 starter, and his return to health has been mentioned often as a reason Atlanta is expected to contend for the NL East title.
``You look at our team and you assess our chances of winning and they're a lot different if Mike Hampton is part of the equation,'' Braves pitcher Tom Glavine said Thursday before Hampton's setback.
``We just want to see him walk off the field after he's all done feeling good and continue that way the rest of the year.''
Instead, Hampton didn't even make it to his first pitch.
Hampton began the night 53-48 with a 4.80 ERA in 134 starts since signing a $121 million, eight-year contract with Colorado before the 2001 season.
Jeff Bennett made the fill-in start Thursday night.
Bennett, who was a fill-in starter for John Smoltz during the spring, could be a candidate to move into the rotation if Hampton misses more starts.
Two late spring cuts were left-handers Chuck James, who has won 11 games each of the last two years, and Jo-Jo Reyes.
James began the season on the disabled list. He was found to have a slight tear in his rotator cuff after last season.
Reyes was 2-2 with a 6.22 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, last season.
The 35-year-old Hampton acknowledged this week that his comeback from such a long layoff is unusual.
``Somebody's gotta do it,'' he said. ``World records are broken all the time. People are doing all kinds of miraculous things.
``That's the sole motivation, to get back doing what I love to do. I've competed against the best players in the world.''