NEW YORK -- Seeking additional bullpen help and potential rotation depth, the Mets announced Thursday that they have signed left-handed pitcher Chuck James to a Minor League contract and invited him to Spring Training.
James, 30, posted a 6.10 ERA during a brief stay in Minnesota's bullpen last summer, also compiling a 3-2 record, one save and a 2.30 ERA over 62 2/3 innings with the organization's Triple-A Rochester affiliate.
A Georgia native whom the Braves selected in the 20th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, James once ranked amongst Atlanta's brightest young starting pitchers, winning 18 games with a 3.78 ERA as a rookie in 2006. But the left-hander stumbled in his sophomore season as injuries began derailing his career.
Though James has pitched mostly in relief since undergoing surgery to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder in 2008 -- which knocked him out for the entire '09 season -- he could fit Mets general manager Sandy Alderson's description of a swingman reliever capable of starting if needed. Outside of rookie Chris Schwinden and recent signee Jeremy Hefner, the Mets currently have little depth beyond their starting five.
As a reliever, James will battle Daniel Herrera and Robert Carson for a spot in the team's Opening Day bullpen. Left-hander Tim Byrdak recently signed a guaranteed contract and is a lock to make the Opening Day roster, along with right-handers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez.