<
>

As expected, Hampton a little timid in latest comeback

ATLANTA -- Mike Hampton is still a bit timid about his long-delayed comeback.

The Braves left-hander, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, had another stint in the bullpen prior to Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hampton threw about 50 pitches, with no pain in the pectoral muscle that sent him to the disabled list before he made it to the mound this season. Now he's trying to get over the doubts in his head.

"Facing competition, I'm going to think about it," Hampton said. "It's not an overnight thing. I've just got to get to where I just worry about getting hitters out. Mentally, I'm just a little timid maybe. I'm still trying to feel my way through it."

Hampton's uneasiness is certainly understandable after all the injures he's been through. Two major operations kept him out the last two years, then he injured his hamstring while trying to rehab in Mexico over the winter. After an encouraging spring, Hampton was actually warming up for his first start when he hurt himself.

During his latest bullpen stint, Hampton worked in a few curves and cutters. He hopes to throw even more at his next bullpen session on Tuesday.

"I threw some breaking balls this time, with a bit more velocity," he said. "If I can do that the next time out, I'll probably be ready to face competition, whether it be simulated or minor league or whatever."

Hampton figures he wouldn't need more than a couple of practice games before he's ready to rejoin the Braves, though no one is taking anything for granted.

"I've kept my body in shape so my arm strength and everything stays good," he said.