Hampton to pitch in simulated game

Hampton to pitch in simulated game

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Technically, Mike Hampton's strained right groin will force him to miss his next scheduled start. But the injury-plagued hurler will still remain on his ordinary schedule by participating in a simulated game at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex on Wednesday.

After Hampton completed a relatively pain-free, 10-minute bullpen session at Disney on Monday morning, he indicated there was a chance he'd pitch on Wednesday night against the Indians. But Braves manager Bobby Cox decided it would be best for the 35-year-old southpaw to keep his arm strong and his legs protected in the environment of a simulated game.

"I don't want to take any steps back," Hampton said. "That's why I was like, 'Maybe a simulated game would be a little smarter, because it would be in a more controlled environment.' Plus, I would continue strengthening my arm without any added stress on my leg."

Toward the end of Monday's 10-minute bullpen session, Hampton felt some slight discomfort in the right groin that he strained in the second inning of Friday's game against the Tigers. Still, he opted to run 12 sprints with the belief that that the discomfort might have simply been caused by fatigue.

So far, Hampton hasn't had any problems with his left elbow, which has prevented him from pitching during either of the past two seasons. All of his recent health-related issues have been confined to his right leg. He suffered a right hamstring strain while pitching in Mexico in November and then tweaked his groin on Friday.

Still, after running Monday's sprints, Hampton gained a sense that his hamstring is nearing full health.

"That's the best that I've been able to run with explosive movement and everything," said Hampton, who hasn't pitched in a regular-season game since Aug. 19, 2005, is determined to be part of the starting rotation on Opening Day. That's part of the reason he decided to stay on schedule, instead of waiting a few extra days to pitch in a Grapefruit League game.

Buddy Carlyle will start in Hampton's place during Wednesday night's game against the Indians.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.