Posted: Thursday, February 2nd 2012 at 10:17pm
Braves' Hanson says shoulder set for normal spring
By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson said Thursday his right shoulder is feeling good and he expects to be on a regular routine for the start of spring training.
Hanson enjoyed a strong first half of the 2011 season, posting a 10-4 record and 2.44 ERA. He made only five starts after the All-Star break due to persistent pain in the shoulder. A small tear was found in his right rotator cuff that did not require surgery.
He was 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA after the break. He did not pitch after Aug. 6.
Hanson resumed throwing last month. He said before working out at Turner Field Thursday his outlook for the season continues to rise.
"I definitely feel a lot more optimistic now than a couple months ago or even last month," he said.
Hanson said he is throwing on his normal offseason schedule and expects that to continue when Braves pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 19.
"I'm on a normal schedule right now and I feel good, so I don't think that will change," he said. "I'll be on a normal schedule.
"My shoulder feels really good. I've been off the mound a couple times and it feels really good."
The 6-foot-6 Hanson walked into the clubhouse with a thick beard and his hair reaching almost to his shoulders. "I'm going to cut it all off," he said with a smile. "I don't think they'll let me keep it."
Hanson's hair was the least of his worries when last season ended. There were concerns the shoulder might require surgery.
"I had no idea last time I talked to you guys what was going to happen or how I was going to feel," he told reporters. "I'm definitely glad that I feel good now and everything has been going good and I feel like I'm going to be on a normal schedule."
Hanson is an important part of the rotation. He has won at least 10 games in each of his three seasons and has a career 32-22 record with a 3.28 ERA.
He was on pace for his best season before the shoulder problems.
He said he worked this winter on back exercises designed to help his shoulder.
"I think it's just going to be a constant thing with my back," he said of the new routine. "It's not bothering me now. I'm doing all my exercises they've been having me do, and it seems to help."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell also will be closely watching Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens when camp opens. Hudson had surgery in November to repair a herniated disk in his back.
Thanks to a troublesome right knee, Jurrjens, like Hanson, spent most of the last two months of the 2011 season on the disabled list. He has been fitted with orthotics to adjust for an undersized joint in his right big toe which caused his ankle to turn outward and put more stress on the knee.
Jurrjens also plans to wear a brace to give the knee more stability.
The injuries to Hanson and Jurrjens contributed to the Braves' collapse in September. The Braves looked like a lock for the NL wild card before blowing an eight-game lead in September.
General manager Frank Wren said the reports on Hanson and Jurrjens are good.
"Hanson is great," Wren said. "He's feeling great right now and Jurrjens as well. Hanson was almost ready to go, if we had been in playoffs. ... They're just continuing to strengthen and put themselves in as strong a position as possible, but they're ready to go."
Right-hander Kris Medlen, who started 14 games in 2010 before needing elbow ligament-replacement surgery, returned for two games last season and will be another option for the rotation.
"We're going to stretch him out as much as we can so if something happens and one of the guys can't go, if we choose to he can be a starter," said Gonzalez of Medlen. "He's got that flexibility."
The Braves have ample depth to avoid rushing Hudson's return.
"We'll know more when we see him in spring training and we see how he holds up and if we need to make adjustments on his schedule," said Gonzalez of Hudson.
-- NOTES: RHP Peter Moylan, returning from rotator cuff surgery, will be in camp as a non-roster player. Moylan said he has been playing catch from 60 feet twice a week. "Right now I'm miles away from being excited," he said. ... Other non-roster invitees include OF Luis Durango, who has played with San Diego and Houston the last three seasons, IF Josh Wilson, SS Drew Sutton and C J.C. Boscan.
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