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12/15/11 10:59 AM EST

Mets ink lefty James to Minor League deal

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.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.