ANAHEIM -- Braves manager Bobby Cox knows it's not always wise to get overly excited about the progress Mike Hampton has made. But after watching the injury-plagued southpaw face a group of his teammates at Angel Stadium on Friday afternoon, the veteran skipper had trouble hiding his excitement.
"He threw great," Cox said. "His ball was sinking like crazy. He had a good change. He just looked great, just like in Spring Training."
Hampton completed a five-minute bullpen session, rested and then faced three batters -- Corky Miller, Brandon Jones and Ruben Gotay -- for five minutes. The 35-year-old left-handed pitcher plans to do something similar on Sunday and if all goes well, he'll travel to the club's Spring Training headquarters to begin his own version of Spring Training.
Once he gets to the headquarters at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, Hampton plans to throw a camp game and then possibly make two starts for the Gulf Coast League Braves, who will start their schedule next week.
Hampton's planned progression would then lead him to two Minor League rehab starts. If he's still healthy at that point, he'll attempt to make his first Major League start since Aug. 19, 2005. His target is to make this start sometime around the All-Star break.
"I don't want to get caught up too much in it," Hampton said. "I just want to take it one at a time. It's hard to look down the road to the fifth start when you haven't made the first one yet. When I make that last one, I know that I'll be ready."
Hampton missed the past two seasons recovering from separate surgical procedures on his left elbow. His anticipated return on April 3 was ruined when he tore his left pectoral muscle approximately 10 minutes before he was scheduled to throw his first pitch.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.