Wednesday, September 5, 2012
No place like home for Hampson
By Keith Schildroth
ST. LOUIS -- Mets righthander Justin Hampson waited a long time to pitch as a professional in front of his family in his hometown.
One would think that after 82 big-league appearances in the National League with San Diego and Colorado, Hampson would have faced at least one hitter in St. Louis.
But he didn't get that opportunity until Tuesday night in the sixth inning when he relieved starter Matt Harvey with the Mets trailing 3-0.
Hampson, 32, who pitched nearby Edwardsville (Ill.) High to the 1999 Large School state title, lives in Glen Carbon, Ill., a city located in the metro area. He was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday.
"It was nice," said Hampson. "I came [here] a few years back but I did not get into the game. It's a different stadium but still the same place."
As Hampson started the walk from the bullpen after being announced, his family, led by wife Wendy and a large group of friends, got excited.
"I heard them yelling when I came out of the bullpen," Hampson said.
As he took the ball from catcher Kelly Shoppach and prepared to face Cards shortstop Daniel Descalso, he paused on the mound for a moment.
"I got on the mound, looked around, took a breath and then I got back to work," said Hampson. "I definitely enjoyed the moment."
Descalso singled through the hole at second, moved to second on a sacrifice by Cards pitcher Jaime Garcia and then stole third. Hampson was upset with himself at the steal.
"I looked back and saw him [Descalso] flinch," said Hampson. "I saw it but I didn't think enough to step off (the mound). I thought he was going to give me a little flinch move but he didn't."
Despite allowing Descalso to score for his first earned run in four appearances with the Mets, Hampson suffered no other damage. He was greeted when he got back to the clubhouse with good wishes.
"My wife texted me right after the game and so did some friends," said Hampson. "It's nice to see that I still have that support."
Wright sits: Mets manager Terry Collins rested third baseman David Wright on Wednesday.
"He's just a warrior and and no question he's having a great year," said Collins. "We have a day off tomorrow and he's not going to get any more."
Wright, who has played in 132 of the Mets 136 games, is batting .313, good enough for fifth place in the NL. He is fourth in the major leagues with a .403 on-base percentage.