Former Lookout Chris Hammond Makes Atlanta's Final Cut

Braves Finalize Opening Day Roster

Sunday, March 31, 2002
Chris Hammond was picked for the final spot on the roster in part because of his experience in the majors.
Chris Hammond was picked for the final spot on the roster in part because of his experience in the majors.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

Rookie left-handed pitcher John Foster didn't allow a run in 13 spring training innings. But that wasn't good enough to make the Braves' roster.

Foster's bad news meant good news for Hammond , who returned to baseball last season after being away from the game for 2 1/2 years.

"It's amazing," said Hammond, 36. "I'm more relieved than anything. But I'm really excited, too.

"Spring training was tough. Every outing I felt like it could be my last. There was a lot of pressure. But everything I've been through was worth it with the way things worked out."

* * * * *

When the Braves start the season Monday against Philadelphia, the primary new faces will be right fielder Gary Sheffield and third baseman Vinny Castilla.

But the Braves will have 10 players who weren't with them on opening day last year, including five pitchers.

With Cox's decision to start the season with 12 pitchers, there were four openings in the bullpen. Two went to right-handers Darren Holmes, who missed last season after back surgery, and rookie Tim Spooneybarger.

The others went to left-handers Damian Moss, who was out of options, and Hammond.

Hammond is remembered as a member of the Chattanooga Lookout's Southern League Championship team of 1988. Fellow Brave Keith Lockhart was also a member of that team.

He once won 11 games for the Marlins, but Hammond had elbow surgery in 1997 and stepped away from baseball the next year.

"After the surgery, it wasn't fun anymore," Hammond said.

He also wanted to spend time with his wife and family.

But Hammond decided to come back, finishing last season at Richmond and then going to Puerto Rico for winter ball.

This spring, he had a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings and earned a spot in the bullpen.

* * * * *

25-MAN OPENING DAY ROSTER

Pitchers (12): Tom Glavine, Chris Hammond, Darren Holmes, Kerry Ligtenberg, Albie Lopez, Greg Maddux, Jason Marquis, Kevin Millwood, Damian Moss, Mike Remlinger, John Smoltz, Tim Spooneybarger.

Catchers (2): Henry Blanco, Javy Lopez.

Infielders (8): Vinny Castilla, Mark DeRosa, Julio Franco, Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles, Wes Helms, Keith Lockhart, B.J. Surhoff.

Outfielders (3): Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Gary Sheffield.
_________

Adapted from article on the AJC.com web site.

Chris Hammonds begins the 2002 season as an Atlanta Brave.
Chris Hammonds begins the 2002 season as an Atlanta Brave.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

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