Hanson scheduled to pitch exhibition season finale in Atlanta

Tommy Hanson is coming to Atlanta.  Well sort of.  Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami are scheduled to pitch next Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers at Turner Field. 

With the Braves opening the season in Philadelphia the next night, manager Bobby Cox won’t want to use any of his projected relievers.  Thus  Kawakami will pitch the first four or five innings and Hanson will likely handle the next four innings.  

This will put Hanson in line to be the Opening Day starter for the Triple-A Gwinnett team that will begin its season on April 9 at Charlotte.   The relocated team will play its first game in Gwinnett on April 17.   If the schedule holds true Hanson’s first home start would occur on April 20.

Cox plans to announce his rotation on Sunday.  Kawakami’s season debut could come during April 10 home opener at Turner Field.  Or the Braves could keep projected Opening Day starter Derek Lowe on schedule and allow him to pitch that game.  This would mean Kawakami’s season debut might actually occur on April 11 against the Nats. 

While pitching in next Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers, Kawakami will have a chance to acquaint himself with the Turner Field mound. 

Kawakami will make his final Grapefruit League start on Monday afternoon when he faces Daisuke Matsuzaka.  The Braves hurler has only previously opposed Dice-K came during Spring Training games in Japan. 

When asked how many media members will likely cover Monday’s game, Kawakami smiled and said “It is Japan.”    Or at least that’s what his interpreter told me that he said. 

Today’s games:   Jair Jurrjens is going to face a Yankees lineup that includes Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira.   Peter Moylan is scheduled to complete one inning during a Minor League game this afternoon.   Moylan will make two more appearances within the next six days and if everything goes well, he’ll begin the season in Atlanta’s bullpen. 

After Jurrjens exits this afternoon’s game, Boone Logan and Mike Gonzalez are scheduled to pitch.  Logan has had two consecutive rough outings and Gonzalez is coming off an appearance during which he surrendered three earned runs and then raved about the increased velocity that he’d displayed.

We’ll be watching the radar readings when Gonzalez takes the mound to pitch in front of a sold-out crowd.  Fans have already covered most of the grass on the left field berm.

Left-handed relievers:  The Braves released left-handed reliever Jeff Ridgway this morning.  Ridgway battled elbow inflammation most of this month and really never figured into the Braves plans after they acquired Logan and Eric O’Flaherty during the offseason. 

O’Flaherty enjoyed a impressive rebound effort on Friday, when he recorded two strikeouts in a scoreless inning against the Tigers.  He had surrendered nine runs and nine hits in his previous outing. 

Braves general manager Frank Wren has provided no indication that he’s felt the need to explore ways to find veteran left-handed reliever to add to his bullpen mix.  O’Flaherty has had just the one bad outing and Logan will have a chance to end his recent struggles this afternoon.

There’s still a chance that both of these left-handed relievers will begin the year in Atlanta’s bullpen.

Former Angels: 
First baseman Casey Kotchman, who has been sick and sidelined since April 18, took batting practice on Saturday and might return to the lineup on Monday.   His former Angels teammate Garret Anderson is expected to return to action on Sunday.  Anderson has been sidelined since March 6 with a strained right calf. 

Today’s Lineup:
Jordan Schafer CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Chipper Jones 3B
Brian McCann C
Greg Norton 1B
Matt Diaz RF
Brandon Jones LF
Martin Prado 2B
Jair Jurrjens P 



I like that Schafer, Jones and Diaz are all in the outfield today. It certainly won’t be our opening day spread, but I’ve loved watching them this spring.

How close do you think the Braves are to a deal involving Brandon Jones? He is getting an awful lot of on field time for a guy that is at best the 7th or 8th outfielder on March 28.

what happened to McCann?

Teixeira fouled a ball back that hit McCann in the right hand…he might have been removed for precautionary reasons. I’ll keep you updated when I gain further info.

I understand where you’re coming from Rother…But from what I’ve been told, the only two players who might be moved this week are Josh Anderson or Bennett…I really haven’t heard anything about Brandon.

Haha. Poor Joe and Jon, they didn’t know what to do when Bobby let that word slip. Haha. Gotta love Bobby.

Blanco is pinch-hitting for Brandon. Maybe some scouts liked how Brandon handled himself while standing in left field during that long second inning…I’ll let you know when I find out why Brandon was removed so soon.

Wow, we’re off to a great start today…

Brandon left because of a stomach virus.

McCann bruised his right ring finger. The Braves didn’t feel he needed X-rays and he’s currently listed as day-to-day. I’ll let you know what he has to do say after we go down to talk to him.

McCann was definitely relieved:

?It?s a bruise, I?ll be out a couple of days probably,? McCann said. ?It might just be a day, I?m not really sure. I?m just glad it?s not serious and it?s not broken. Any time you get hit that hard in the hand, that?s the first thing that comes to your mind.?

?It went numb immediately,? McCann said. ?But once I regained feeling, I knew it was just a bruise. You can see the bruise. But this isn?t anything that?s going to keep me out for an extended period of time.?

Schafer should get the job today. Forever.

Shafer is the man…He seems like He has the intangibles…the kind of guy that can even play better than His skills because of His desire. Mark, what do we do with our others 5 starters if they all stay healthy and hanson keeps pitching like this. would the braves put him in the pen? Would they even consider that, like with Price?

One more thing…Do you love your job or what? Is there anyway you could give me your job?

I know I’ve thrown a lot of potential CF scenarios out there this week just to inform you about why the Braves might not give the job to Schafer. But I certainly believe that he deserves the job and is more than capable of proving he can handle himself against big league competition on a daily basis…You guys have seen his offensive numbers throughout this month and via the televised games aired over the past few days, you’ve seen just how good he is defensively.

From an offensive standpoint, he has the potential to make an impact on this team’s success. Throw in his defense and he has to be viewed as a difference maker.

If the Braves send him to the Minors for two months, they’ll be kicking themselves at the end of the season if they miss the playoffs by just a few games.

I know the front office wants to hold off on offering arbitration to Schafer but it seems like the pros outweigh the cons on this one. They are making the right decision with Hanson but I think most of Braves nation wants Schafer in CF and he deserves to be the center fielder in ’09.

Mark, any idea how Schafer has done against LHP this spring? Of course, no “splits” available – it’s like living in the dark ages! – but that’s my only concern about him.

I think Schafer stays in the minors for 12 days (delays his free agency 1 year but he’ll get 4 arb years) and Hanson stays in the minors for 2 months (delays his arbitration clock AND free agency 1 year). Schafer’s a HUGE upgrade over anyone else in an area we need help (offense), but Hanson isn’t that much of an upgrade over a healthy and effective Tom Glavine and we probably wouldn’t net any wins from bringing Hanson up for an extra 1 and 3/4 months, especially at the beginning of the season. Delaying HIS arbitration clock seems like a good investment in our future without peeing on our present. Delaying Schafer’s seems like a good investment in our future while potentially costing us bigtime right now. Since we’ve spent all that money this off-season, we need to win right now.

PWHjort, you’re funny but I agree with your post. It’s to bad that we couldn’t carry five outfielders. I don’t have a problem sending Schafer back down for more seasoning and delaying the time clock on him. But I’m worried about hurting the trade value on G. Blanco and J. Anderson.

This morning Bobby announced Lowe will start Opening Night in Philly and the April 10 home opener in Atlanta. Jurrjens will pitch the second game in Philly and Vazquez will pitch third…this order was primarily a product of the way things fell into place after Vazquez returned from the WBC….Kawakami will make his season debut on April 11 at Turner Field.

Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman both traveled with the team this morning. Anderson will DH today and tomorrow.

Here’s what our rotation for the month of April will most probably look like: (the numbers are the dates on which we have a game)

5 Lowe
7 Jurrjens
8 Vazquez
10 Lowe
11 Kawakami
12 Jurrjens
14 Vazquez
15 Lowe
16 Kawakami
17 Jurrjens
18 Glavine
19 Vazquez
20 Lowe
21 Kawakami
22 Jurrjens
24 Vazquez
25 Lowe
26 Kawakami
27 Jurrjens
28 Glavine
29 Vazquez

Anybody know when Hanson is scheduled to pitch against the Bulls in a couple of weeks? I live in raleigh and would love to catch the game. I’m guessing 14th or 15th based on the above blog entry

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