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Second start a long time coming for Campillo

POSTED: May 30, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Braves pitcher Jorge Campillo throws in a game earlier this year in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. Campillo, who last started a major league game in 2005, is slated to get his second career start tonight.

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ATLANTA — Jorge Campillo had too much time to reflect on his first major league start.

Way too much.

Campillo made one start for Seattle in 2005 and got only four outs before leaving with an injured right elbow that led to season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Campillo made brief relief appearances for Seattle in 2006 and 2007. He signed with the Atlanta Braves as a minor league free agent in December.

Now comes another opportunity for the 30-year-old Campillo. He will start the second game of the Braves’ day-night doubleheader today against the New York Mets.

Campillo earned the start by excelling in most of his 13 appearances in relief. He has allowed only three earned runs in 21À innings for a 1.27 ERA.

The start, however, will be extra special.

"I’ve always been a starter in my career," Campillo said. "I feel comfortable in the bullpen, too, but I’ve always started."

Campillo doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball, but Braves manager Bobby Cox has praised his curveball all season. Campillo also has earned Cox’s trust with strong control — he’s walked five and struck out 17.

"He’s got a great curveball and a great changeup and he can zip his fastball in there a little bit," Cox said.

"He’s earned it," Cox said.

The Braves promoted Campillo from Triple-A Richmond on April 10. He made only one start for Richmond, allowing five hits and no runs in 4Àinnings.

Campillo hasn’t worked longer than three innings or thrown more than 42 pitches for Atlanta, so he won’t be thinking about a complete game against the Mets.

"Maybe I can throw 75 or 80 pitches, maybe more," Campillo said. "I feel good. I feel ready."

Cox said he expects Campillo to last five or six innings.

The Braves, facing the most difficult stretch of their longest homestand of the season, don’t want to see their bullpen overworked in the doubleheader. After four games against the Mets, the Braves will face four games against Arizona.

The Braves opened the 11-game homestand by winning two of three against Oakland.

Campillo will be Atlanta’s eighth starting pitcher in 45 games. The Braves have been without projected starter Mike Hampton all season, and John Smoltz has been on the disabled list since April 29 with a sore shoulder.

There could be an opportunity for Campillo to be more than just a fill-in starter.

Chuck James, who has an 8.22 ERA in five starts, was optioned to Richmond on Friday. Jeff Bennett, who has started three games, appears set in the bullpen. When healthy, Smoltz plans to return as the closer.

There could be room for Campillo to earn the No. 5 spot in the rotation behind Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Jair Jurrjens and Jo-Jo Reyes.

Campillo says he’s happy as a starter or reliever, but he’s at least hoping for a better result today than in that start for Seattle in 2005. It came in August at Detroit and was his second big league appearance — he didn’t pitch again in the majors for more than a year.

"It was not good," he said. "I was making my first start and I hurt my elbow. My memories of that game are not good."



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