Braves begin workouts in Florida

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Atlanta Braves have added new depth but still have many questions about their pitching staff entering spring training.

Can Mike Hampton make a comeback? Is Chuck James healthy? Is Jair Jurrjens ready? Can Rafael Soriano be a full-time closer?

Those questions should keep things interesting as pitchers and catchers hold their first workouts tomorrow. They were due to report today.

The Braves have been out of the playoffs the past two seasons after winning 14 straight division titles.

Team officials feel that the Braves have has strengthened the pitching staff with the return of left-hander Tom Glavine, a two-time Cy Young award winner and the victor in the deciding game of Atlanta's only World Series championship.

Perhaps the biggest question mark is Hampton. He hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2005 due to two elbow operations.

Hampton suffered a right hamstring injury in the first inning of his first start in a winter league game in Mexico in November. This came after his 2007 season ended when he suffered a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow last spring.

The hamstring injury renewed doubts that the 35-year-old Hampton can remain healthy and join John Smoltz, Tim Hudson and Glavine to give the team four former 20-game winners, each with more than 130 career wins.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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