ATLANTA — Brent Lillibridge’s second call to the major leagues may have been even more special than his first.
Lillibridge was recalled from Triple-A Richmond for Saturday’s game. That had Lillibridge excited, but his anticipation grew when he realized he arrived in Atlanta in time for the Braves’ final two games of a series against the Mariners, his favorite team while growing up in Everett, Wash., about 20 minutes north of Seattle.
"I haven’t seen them play in about five years since I’ve been on the East Coast," Lillibridge said.
Lillibridge said he grew up cheering for Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki. Griffey now plays for Cincinnati.
Lillibridge was hitting only .207 at Richmond, and only a recent surge pushed the average over .200. He had three-hit games on Friday and Saturday.
"The last 10 games went really well," he said.
"I figured out what I was doing wrong, just getting in pretty good position to hit. ... It wears you out a little bit. I definitely had some down times. ... I feel I came out of it better and stronger. I just had to have a little faith in it and know that I’m here for a reason."
Lillibridge was 0-for-8 and drove in one run in his first stint with Atlanta in April.
Hampton back on comeback trail
Mike Hampton pitched three scoreless innings in a minor league rehabilitation game for the Braves’ Gulf Coast League team in Orlando on Saturday. He gave up only one hit and struck out two batters while throwing 39 pitches.
Hampton has been on the disabled since March 30 with a strained left pectoral and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2005. He is scheduled to pitch in another Gulf Coast League game on Wednesday.
Hampton, 35, was warming up for his first start in Atlanta on April 3 when he hurt his pectoral muscle.
There is no change in the status of reliever Rafael Soriano, who is on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. "He’s still hurting," said manager Bobby Cox. ... Cox said shortstop Yunel Escobar wanted to start on Saturday night after leaving Friday night’s game with a hip injury. "I’ll give him the extra day," Cox said. Omar Infante started for Escobar and committed two first-inning fielding errors. ... Mark Kotsay took batting practice as he continues his recovery from a lower back strain.