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Hampton to make first start in 3 years

POSTED: July 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton is scheduled to take the mound against the Phillies on Saturday for his first start in almost three years.

Hampton hasn't pitched in the major leagues since Aug. 19, 2005. He's had two major surgeries on his left elbow in the last three years and has had a long line of new injuries while trying to work his way back into pitching form.

The two-time All-Star has been injured before his scheduled start three times this season. Hampton hurt his left groin while pitching in a minor league rehab game with Double-A Mississippi last week, but impressed manager Bobby Cox in a bullpen session Tuesday.

The left-hander pitched only one inning in Mexico this winter before straining his hamstring when he slipped on the mound. He then strained his right groin in the second inning of his second spring training game.

He earned a spot as the No. 4 starter before straining his left pectoral muscle while warming up before his scheduled April 3 start in Atlanta. He aggravated the chest injury in the minor leagues before injuring his left groin.

Hampton is 53-48 with a 4.80 ERA in 134 starts since signing a $121 million, eight-year contract with Colorado before the 2001 season. He's earning $15 million this season in the final year of that deal. Overall, Hampton is 138-101 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 seasons.

Hampton was 13-9 with a 4.28 ERA with Atlanta in 2004, his last full season. He was 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 12 starts for the Braves in 2005 before sustaining the injury which led to the Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Hampton missed the 2006 season recovering the surgery and opened the 2007 season on the disabled list with a left oblique injury. He then learned he had a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, leading to another season-ending surgery.



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