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04/23/08 12:15 AM ET

Hampton eyes Minors rehab stint

Injured Braves lefty still feels 'timid,' but could begin comeback

ATLANTA -- After completing a bullpen session at Turner Field on Tuesday evening, Mike Hampton felt good enough to declare that he might begin a Minor League rehab assignment as early as Friday.

But at the same time, the completion of this 62-pitch side session didn't exactly give Hampton complete peace of mind. The Braves left-hander is still looking to gain the confidence that will allow him to throw every pitch without the fear of potentially adding to his long list of injuries.

"I'm not going to lie, I still felt a little timid," said Hampton, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left pectoral muscle. "Hopefully a Minor League rehab process will get that out of my mind."

Following Tuesday's 6-0 loss to the Nationals, Braves general manager Frank Wren said Hampton will indeed start a Minor League rehab assignment on Friday at Triple-A Richmond.

If Hampton awakes without discomfort on Wednesday, the Braves will likely plan to send him on his rehab assignment. It's still unknown whether he'll make multiple starts before being activated.

When Hampton strained his left pectoral muscle less than 10 minutes before making his scheduled season debut on April 3, he did more than suffer a physical injury. This proved to be a definite mental setback for the 35-year-old hurler, who hasn't pitched in a Major League game since Aug. 19, 2005.

Hampton's elbow, which forced him to miss both of the past two seasons, hasn't been a problem. But over the course of the past five months while attempting to make his comeback, the muscles that he's strained include his right hamstring, right groin and left pectoral.

"It's more mental now than physical," Hampton said.

During Tuesday's side session, Hampton had no trouble throwing his four-seam fastball to the inside part of the plate against right-handed hitters. But he still hasn't built the nerve to even attempt to throw a sinker in that specific location.

This particular pitch, which forces him to come across his body, is the one that he threw when he injured the pectoral muscle nearly three weeks ago.

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