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Mike Hampton Stars in His Own Version of Groundhog Day
Remember that great movie Groundhog Day where everyday Bill Murray's character wakes up to the exact same day? That must be what Mike Hampton has felt like for the past 1,063 days or so (but who's counting). Sure, it's been different injuries along the way, but in the end it's always the same result.
So, what might you ask is the diagnosis this time? Strained groin. In what was probably going to be his last rehab start at AA Mississippi before returning to Atlanta, Hampton left the game after the second inning last night. We're told he'll be re-evaluated today.
For those who haven't been following along, Hampton was rehabbing this time from a strained pec which caused him to get scratched from what was to be his first game back with Atlanta on April 3rd just shortly before game time. Before that it was left elbow surgery, and before that it was a torn oblique muscle, and before that it was the Tommy John surgery that originally sidelined him in 2005. Thus, it looks inevitable that Hampton will miss his third consecutive major league season, this one being the final one of his $121 million 8-year deal.
I heard some talk about the situation this morning between Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez on XM's MLB Home Plate. Buck pointed out that although Braves fans are surely frustrated, Hampton himself must be awfully frustrated. I agree that there's only so much Hampton can control when it comes to his body and that this has played out like a comedy of errors. I also agree with Buck that it's admirable that Hampton has spent all this time making the effort to come back. As Buck said, he could have just stayed home and collected the rest of his contract. However, that doesn't change the fact that the Braves (and us as Braves fans) got a raw deal here. I guess that's the gamble you take with long-term contracts, but who could have envisioned this? Buck suggested that Hampton return next year to the Braves and agree to play for the league minimum or close to it in an effort to pay the Braves back for all the money he's made. I'm sure the MLBPA will love that idea. For that matter, I'm sure Braves fans will love that idea. Did you catch the sarcasm?
Even an eternal optimist like myself finds it hard to continue to say that Hampton will somehow round the corner and make a return to the Big Show. Unfortunately, this isn't a movie and I don't think us Braves fans will get to see a happy ending.