Atlanta Braves' starting pitcher Tommy Hanson had a solid 2011 season overall, but, unfortunately, he was forced to watch the last month and a half of the season from the bench. While the Braves were in the midst of their historic collapse, a right shoulder injury kept Hanson off the mound during this crucial time.
Hanson now believes that the shoulder discomfort was a product of a back injury he suffered midway through the 2010 season. During that season, Hanson battled back pain that was a result of a deviated facet joint. The inflammation from that particular injury has since placed greater strain on his shoulder.
"I think the reason my shoulder was hurting was my back," Hanson said. "I think it's something I just have to maintain, and I'll be fine. I don't see it as something that will be a problem."
Hanson has been working this offseason to strengthen both his back and shoulder in an effort to stay healthy throughout the 2012 season. He spent a month in Florida training and working out with Troy Jones, the Braves' Minor League physical therapist. He plans to begin playing "light" catch this week and is confident about being ready for Spring Training.
"If I had to go [to Spring Training] right now, I think I would feel pretty confident," Hanson said. "I don't think it will be a problem. I think the biggest thing for me was the rest. Then once I started strengthening it, it felt a lot better."
The Braves certainly need Hanson to be healthy. Aside from the injury concerns to Tim Hudson (back) and Jair Jurrjens (knee), a healthy Tommy Hanson is an ace. Going into the All-Star Break last season, Hanson had a 2.44 ERA and was widely considered one of the biggest All-Star snubs. After the All-Star break, he struggled mightily as a result of the shoulder discomfort.
"Your body automatically guards whatever is bothering you," Hanson said. "So I think whenever I would pump up and try to throw something by somebody, I think I was just putting more pressure on my shoulder."
If the Braves have any shot at contending in the 2012 season, they need a healthy Tommy Hanson to anchor their rotation.
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