Braves option James to Triple-A

Braves option James to Triple-A

DENVER -- After making only one appearance in the first 12 games of the season -- a spot start Wednesday in place of the injured Mike Hampton -- Braves lefty Chuck James was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday to shake the rust off. The Braves purchased the contract of right-hander Jorge Campillo to round out the pitching staff.

"We optioned James to Richmond this morning," manager Bobby Cox said after Thursday's series finale with the Rockies was snowed out. "[We need to] get him some starts."

James was activated from the disabled list Wednesday in time to make his start. After not pitching in a game since March 13, he had a hard time catching up against the Rockies. He had been sidelined for shoulder rehabilitation, but from his perspective, the injury is behind him.

"The biggest thing for me right now is going to be innings," James said Thursday morning. "All spring, I've just been going so slow and trying to get back, I just haven't had a chance to get in a real good groove. It just didn't work out for me."

James allowed six runs on five hits, a walk and three hit batsmen in three innings Wednesday, throwing 69 pitches as the Braves lost their third straight game to the Rockies. The day after his start, he had no lingering issues with his shoulder.

"I feel fine," James said. "Shoulder doesn't feel too bad today. I just got to throw more strikes, get around the zone more and work on location."

The location should come with some more regular work, something he wasn't assured of finding with the Braves early in the season. James was pragmatic about the move to the Minors, knowing he needs some regular work to get himself into prime condition.

"It can't hurt nothing," James said of his trip to Triple-A. "I definitely need to get back in the groove and figure it out. I'll go down there, get some innings in and see if we can't get it worked out."

After Wednesday's spot start for Hampton, Thursday's snowout, and a scheduled off-day coming up Monday, the Braves don't figure to need a fifth starter again until April 20.

"Chuckie was up again on Tuesday. Being pushed back [by the snow], we can cover that now," Cox said, indicating his desire to go with four starters as long as the schedule will allow. "We're not going to need a fifth starter now, if everything works out right, for a while. So we'll just cover the bullpen with another arm."

Cox liked what he saw of Campillo's arm in Spring Training, calling him a "strike thrower."

The 29-year-old was signed as a Minor League free agent in December after playing the last few years in the Mariners organization. He was originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent in 1996 and played eight years in Mexico City before Seattle acquired him in 2005.

In eight big league appearances over the past three years, Campillo posted a 7.13 ERA. He made one start and pitched 17 2/3 innings, walking seven and striking out 11.

At Richmond, Campillo had made one start in 2008, throwing 4 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, letting up five hits while striking out four and walking none.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.