Tommy Hanson is finally two weeks removed from a concussion, and his shoulder is no longer bothering him. It just happened that the weather played a role in the rain-shortened Spring Training debut for the Atlanta Braves starter.
In his first start since Aug. 6, Hanson was charged with three runs (two earned) on two hits and a walk against the Toronto Blue Jays. He was pulled without recording an out in the second inning due to a rain delay that ended up cancelling the rest of the game, but not before he gave up a two-run homer to Jeff Mathis.
"The first inning was a lot more fun than the second," Hanson told braves.com. "I was getting balls that were soaked and wet and the mound was drenched. But it was still fun. When I was out there, I was just laughing about it because I was glad to be back out there on the mound. It was fun to compete again. It was one of those conditions where I didn't really care what happened because it didn't matter. It was almost like I was a little kid playing in the rain again."
With the soggy conditions, Fredi Gonzalez was more concerned with the fact that Hanson was able to get on the mound with his new motion than the fact that he gave up a home run. Although Hanson still has a slight pause in his motion, the new motion was made to ease the strain on his right shoulder.
From the stretch, Hanson's times to the plate now clock around 1.35-1.4 seconds, as opposed to 1.7-1.8 seconds in previous years. Those tenths of a second can make a big difference in controlling the basepaths.
"In baseball terms, that tells a runner, 'Yes, you can go,' and that's not so easy anymore," Gonzalez said. "You eliminate the mediocre baserunners when you go 1.3 or 1.4. The guys like [Jose] Reyes and your top-tier base stealers — Michael Bourn — that time is still go for them. But you eliminate a lot of the average baserunners."
Hanson went 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA and .190 opponents’ average in 17 starts before the All-Star break last season before incurring the small tear in his rotator cuff. After the All-Star break, Hanson dropped to 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA in five starts.
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