Redman agrees to Minor League deal

Redman agrees to Minor League deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It didn't take the Braves long to react to Mike Hampton's absence from their starting rotation. And it won't take long for them to get their a first impression of his replacement.

While announcing that they'd signed Mark Redman to a Minor League contract on Friday afternoon, the Braves also revealed that Redman will start for them in Saturday afternoon's game against the Blue Jays at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

"It's a great pick-up," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We're thin."

The Braves became much thinner in the starting pitching department on Wednesday, when Hampton strained his left oblique during batting practice. The ailment, combined with the uncertainty he still faces while coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, leads the Braves to believe Hampton will be out at least two months.

Redman, who went 11-10 with a 5.71 ERA for the Royals last year, seemingly overpriced himself on the free-agent market this past offseason. Thus he was still available for the Braves, who didn't even contact him until Thursday.

At that time, they learned that Redman had been going through his own preseason preparations in Tulsa, Okla. Despite having been selected as Kansas City's All-Star Game representative last year, he didn't find the suitable employer until the Braves came calling.

"I think we got lucky that there was a guy around like that," Cox said. "You know that every team is looking for starting pitching. There's going to be one or two guys not make the rotation somewhere that's going to be available."

If all goes according to current plans, Redman will be on the 25-man roster at the beginning of the regular season. Because the Braves' 40-man roster is currently full, they signed him to a Minor League contract.

Redman will make $750,000 if he's placed on the 40-man roster. The 33-year-old left-hander's contract also allows him to make an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses, based on the amount of starts he makes at the Major League level.

"Under the circumstances that we find ourselves, we feel very fortunate that he was available," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said.

Redman, who has pitched for four different organizations over the past four years, enjoyed his finest big-league season in 2003, when he went 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA for the eventual World Series champion Marlins.

Two years later, while making 30 starts for the Pirates, Redman was 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA.

"I really liked him when he was with Florida," said Cox.

With Redman, who was 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA in four starts against the Braves in 2003, the Braves have at least acquired a veteran left-handed pitcher who can eat up innings until Hampton returns. The 167 innings he completed last year were the fewest he's compiled over the course of the past four seasons.

Redman's tenure with the struggling Royals allowed him to notch his only career All-Star selection last year. While he's an experienced veteran, he's struggled to find a stable employer. The Braves are the sixth different organization to employ him since the start of the 2002 season.

If they hadn't acquired Redman, the Braves would have likely found Kyle Davies and Lance Cormier filling the final two spots in their rotation. Davies still hasn't lived up to expectations and Cormier's only true success as a starter at the big-league level came in the five starts he made last September.

While rolling the dice with the construction of their bullpen last year, the Braves were reminded that inexperienced and unproven pitchers can quickly cripple the entire team.

"We're doing everything we can to be in a position to win," Schuerholz said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Anthony Gagliano contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.