Looking ahead: Freeman returns; Hanson makes progress
Freddie Freeman was back in Tuesday’s lineup and Tommy Hanson could be pitching in a game by the start of next week. As for Chipper Jones, he will rest his sore legs for a couple more day.
There was obviously plenty of health-related news floating around Braves camp on this morning. Fortunately, none of the developments provide any reason to worry.
Freeman prepared to start Tuesday afternoon’s game against the Nationals without much concern. The 22-year-old first baseman has not experienced any problem with his right knee as he has taken aggressive batting practice swings and fielded grounders over the past few days.
As of early Tuesday morning, Freeman still had not repeated the same stretching motion he was making when his right kneecap popped out of place exactly a week ago. But he did not seem to worried as he took the field for batting practice wearing a stabilizing sleeve on his right knee.
“I can’t go out there worrying about it happening again,” Freeman said. “I’ve just got to go out there and play.”
Hanson experienced no problems as he completed a five-minute, live batting practice session this morning. As long as he does not experience any further setbacks, he will likely throw a longer live BP session on Thursday. There is a chance he could make his exhibition season debut on Sunday against the Blue Jays. But for now, the Braves are just taking it one step at a time.
Hanson once again said that he felt comfortable with his “altered delivery” again this morning. This seems to be the most encouraging development from the two live BP sessions Hanson he has completed since Sunday. He was not allowed back on the mound for nearly two weeks after suffering a Grade 1 concussion on Feb. 20.
But he threw at least six bullpen sessions in January with this new delivery that was altered to lessen the strain placed on his shoulder and to improve his defense against potential basestealers.
“I’m glad I did,” Hanson said. “This has been weird. It was a weird January and this has been weird.”
Pitching coach Roger McDowell still believes Hanson will be ready to make his first turn through the rotation.
Hanson could have an additional week to prepare for his regular season debut if he starts the sixth game of the year on April 11 against the Astros. But the Braves are not ready to specifically target when he might return. In fact, they have not yet ruled out the possibility he could pitch during the opening series against the Mets.
After Kris Medlen completes his two innings this afternoon, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty will each make their exhibition season debuts. Today’s feature story will focus on these three relievers.
While in the clubhouse this morning, I threw around some potential nicknames for these three relievers. They really don’t believe they deserve a nickname until they prove themselves again. But it’s safe to say they do not like the O’Ventbrel moniker that has been used by some other media outlets.
“That’s brutal” Venters said when O’Ventrbrel was mentioned.