James makes his first career start when the Braves wrap up their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday.
Atlanta’s pitchers have already spent more time on the disabled list than in any of the last 15 full seasons. Relievers John Foster, Blaine Boyer, Joey Devine and Chris Reitsma and starters Kyle Davies, John Thomson, Mike Hampton and Horacio Ramirez all have been on the DL this season.
Ramirez is the only one to have been disabled twice. Atlanta also placed reliever Phil Stockman was on the DL after he strained his left hamstring Friday.
James (0-0, 2.38 ERA), recalled Saturday to help out the injury-plagued staff, as injured earlier this season. He made seven relief appearances before going on the DL on May 6 with a hamstring injury.
“I’m just going to try to keep it as easy as possible and not put too much pressure on myself,” he said.
James is 1-0 with a 2.67 ERA in seven appearances, including six starts, this season for Triple-A Richmond. He has never faced Tampa Bay.
The Braves (31-44) lost 3-2 to the Devil Rays on Saturday, one day after snapping a 10-game losing streak—their longest slide since dropping the first 10 games of the 1988 season. Atlanta, which has lost 21 of 25, also is 11-20 in a major league-high 31 one-run games.
“It’s been hard,” said Lance Cormier, who made his second start of the season for the Braves. “I know it’s been a prolonged thing for the whole month of June. We’ve just got to keep plugging. We’ll be on top of those games and then everything is going to turn. It’s got to turn.”
Rocco Baldelli tripled in a run for the Devil Rays (33-42), who have won six of eight. Chad Harville pitched the final 1 2-3 innings for his first save since Sept. 24, 2003 while with Oakland, and Tim Corcoran earned his first major league win in his season debut.
“Just a very good game intensity by everybody,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay, which improved to 9-2 in interleague play this season, has gotten at least 10 hits in 11 of the past 15 games.
Mark Hendrickson (4-7, 3.75) will take the mound for Tampa Bay in the series finale. He allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings of Tuesday’s 8-5 win over Arizona.
“That was a struggle,” he said. “I just didn’t find too much rhythm. It’s tough to say that with the result, it was a pretty successful outing. It was a tough outing tonight, but I was proud of myself for giving my team a chance.”
Hendrickson was coming off a nine-inning outing on June 14 in which he gave up just one unearned run in Tampa Bay’s 5-1 win over Detroit in 12 innings. He had been 0-4 with a 3.67 ERA over his previous five starts, receiving just six runs of support over that span.
Hendrickson has never faced the Braves.