SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Hampton arrived at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon with reasons to smile. Less than 24 hours earlier, he'd notched his first Major League win in nearly three full seasons and over the past two weeks he's proven that he can pitch and remain healthy at the same time.
After tossing seven solid innings and beating the Giants on Tuesday night, a humble Hampton contained his excitement. This was his first win since Aug. 14, 2005, and also something that provided him further motivation to continue his attempt to regain his former All-Star form.
"I'm walking around and feeling better about myself today," Hampton said before Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Giants. "It's nothing like rah-rah or I'm great kind of stuff. With this game, you can never sit around too long feeling good about yourself."
For most of the past three years, Hampton has certainly done more than simply sit around. While missing the two previous seasons while recovering from separate surgical procedures on his left elbow, he'd encountered countless hours of rehab.
Then, while a strained left pectoral muscle and minor groin strains prevented him from returning to the mound until July 26 of this year, he encountered frustration and more countless hours of rehab. Still, through it all, the 35-year-old southpaw seemingly never lost the swing that enabled him to win four National League Silver Slugger Awards.
"I just see it and swing at it," said Hampton, who has two doubles and three RBIs in the six at-bats he's compiled during his three starts this year.
Attempting to avoid any further injuries, Hampton had just two official at-bats during Spring Training. During most of his plate appearances, he attempted to bunt. Still, he looked quite comfortable while hitting a double off the left-center-field wall in Tuesday's fifth inning.
Since the start of the 1999 season, Hampton has hit .270 (120-for-445) with 15 homers and a .442 slugging percentage. But he's not expecting to improve those stats on Sunday, when he opposes Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb, who currently leads the Majors with 16 wins.
"Seriously, if I get a hit off that guy, I'm going to suggest that I play every day," Hampton said. "I just need somebody to tag and run for me. Did Babe Ruth do that?"
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.