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Campillo finds home in Atlanta

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  • Campillo finds home in Atlanta

    The distance between Jorge Campillo's hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, and the United States is just one step across the border, but until the 2008 season it marked the difference between happiness and regret for the Braves pitcher.

    When does a childhood dream become an adult nightmare? When do you give up on Major League Baseball and more importantly, when has Major League Baseball given up on you? Campillo spent sleepless nights over the offseason asking himself those very questions.

    The answer is one he has grown to accept and Atlanta come to appreciate. There is no way Campillo is giving up, not this year. Mexico can wait another year for one of its favorite baseball sons to return home to play.

    Campillo, 29, is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA with 28 strikeouts in six starts for the Braves this season. Overall, he sports a 2.17 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 20 games in 2008. The right-hander was called up from Triple-A in April and made his first 13 appearances out of the bullpen.

    "This is a dream for all of my family, but now the stakes are higher," Campillo said. "Before it was just to get here, but now it's to stay here for a long time. You never relax in this game."

    Campillo's next chance will come today. He is scheduled to start against Seattle, the team that signed him out of Mexico in 2005.

    "From Day 1 since he joined us, he's been just amazing," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He started in the bullpen and was fantastic, and every start he has made has been fantastic. He's got tremendous control. He's one of our top dogs."

    Campillo's repertoire is made up of a curveball, slider, cut fastball and changeup. Far from overpowering, his fastball hovers in the 86- to 88-mph range, but his sneaky delivery can be deceptive. He has appeared in only 28 Major League games in his career, but has been pitching professionally in Mexico since 1998.

    "He knows how to pitch and he's faced all kind of guys in the Minor Leagues, Mexican Leagues and the big leagues," Braves catcher Corky Miller said. "He has faced different types of hitters, different styles of hitters and he has an idea of how to get those types of players out. It's not necessarily about getting the individual out as much as getting that kind of guy out and what they are looking for."

    Campillo's biggest asset could be his perseverance. His courage ranks a close second. Already a household name in Mexico, the pitcher was discovered by Mariners scouts after pitching in the 2005 Caribbean Series for Mexico and quickly signed with the team.

    His progress in the Seattle system slowed to a snail's pace. He made one appearance with the Mariners upon his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma in August 2005, but missed the remainder of the season with a strained elbow. The strain led to Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, forcing him to miss most of the 2006 season. Upon his return, he allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings in his only appearance of 2006.

    Campillo's baseball statistics were not pretty and the numbers in his life -- two years in the United States, one surgery, one child and a Minor League salary -- weighed heavily on him. He had been a star in Mexico and life back home was good. Up to that point, his life in the United States was a disaster.

    "You get to a certain level in Mexico and you can make about $10,000 a month," Campillo said. "That's a good life in a country that loves baseball. But you don't have the benefits or retirement plans you get here. Over there, once you are finished, you are finished. They don't want anything to do with you. You have to start a business or something to get by. I wanted to try again."

    In 2007, Campillo pitched only 13 1/3 innings for the Mariners and struggled with a 6.75 ERA on the big league level. In the Minors, he led Triple-A's Pacific Coast League in ERA, but was still taken off the roster by the Mariners at the end of the season.

    "I don't know what happened in Seattle, but I appreciate what they did by signing me," Campillo said. "They gave me the opportunity and I can't forget that. I got hurt and the guys behind me passed me. I don't know if I was not their plans or if it was because I don't throw hard. I never knew what happened, but I know I was not able to do in the Major Leagues what they thought I would."

    Without a job, Campillo returned to Mexico and planned out his future. Married and now the father of two young children, he made up his mind to go back to playing in Mexico on a full-time basis. The Major League dream was not worth the heartache anymore and he knew Mexico would welcome him with open arms.

    "At what point is the sacrifice too much? This is my dream, but what am I doing to my family?" Campillo said. "Hey, if I am single I can do whatever I want, but I have to think of my family. After Seattle, I told my wife we are going back. This is too hard on us. I don't like what I am doing to our family. I am losing money playing here, the kids are missing school, I'm wasting the best years of my life trying to get somewhere that I might not get to because the teams don't want me. She said to give it one more chance."

    The Braves called. Campillo took his wife's advice and he signed before the start of the season. He's never been happier.

    "I was happy in Mexico, but when you watch Major League Baseball on television you wonder if you can play there," he said. "Atlanta games are always on television, so you think about that -- [Greg] Maddux, [Tom] Glavine and playing on these fields. I am happy now. I just want to help the team win."

  • #2
    Dude, you don't HAVE to post articles from, or any other place, like this constantly. I appreciate the thought, but it's rather annoying.
    46 wins to match last year's total


    • #3
      I think he's just trying to help.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Imgran View Post
        I think he's just trying to help.
        Like I said, I appreciate the thought, but if I really wanted to read it, I'd go to the website and read it. That's where he's getting these things from.
        46 wins to match last year's total


        • #5
          Originally posted by SamtheBravesFan View Post
          Like I said, I appreciate the thought, but if I really wanted to read it, I'd go to the website and read it. That's where he's getting these things from.
          True, I think most of us do visit the Braves site on a daily/semi-daily bases. Thanks, anyway. BTW, isn't it plagiarizing if you don't credit the source...
          Last edited by Extra Innings; 06-20-2008, 12:56 PM.
          My collection of autographs: TTM Autos


          • #6
            If you are going to post articles I would suggest crediting the source like Extra said. Also I would post articles in the Braves Season thread since these sort of things don't need their own thread.
            Extend Prado!!!


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