So here we are. It’s June 7, 2009. You might want to make a mental note of that – the day Tommy Hanson made his debut for the Braves.
Nobody involved is backing down from how significant it is for this organization and how much promise this guy holds, so why should we here at the Braves/MIB blog? (Even the backup blogger, hint, hint.)
I drove into the ballpark behind Hanson today, with Kris Medlen riding shotgun, watched him take a right turn into the player parking lot at 10:08 a.m. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in his Infinity, to know what that feels like, to be right there on the cusp of something so special: the start of his major league career.
Last I saw Hanson before coming up to write this blog, he was sitting at his locker, facing in, listening to his Ipod, thumping his right knee to the beat. Just biding his time.
So now I’m doing my best to get this blog up before he takes the mound and the buildup is obsolete!
Before we go anointing him this or that based on what he does or doesn’t do today, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at what the other Braves big guns did in their major league debuts:
We’ll go chronologically:
Greg Maddux made his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs in a game that started Sept. 2, 1986 and ended on Sept. 3, 1986. It was suspended by rain. He entered the game as a pinch runner, then took over in relief in the top of the 18th inning against the Astros. He gave up the losing run on a home run by the pinch-hitting center fielder Billy Hatcher. Cubs lose 8-7.
(Hanson was less than a week old at the time, by the way. He was born August 28, 1986 in Tulsa.)
Course, Maddux being Maddux, he pitched a complete game in his first major league start, going nine innings at Cincinnati, allowing 11 hits but only three runs, walking three and striking out four.
Then came Tom Glavine, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his debut on Aug. 17, 1987 in an 11-2 loss to the Astros. He gave up 10 hits, six runs, all earned, and walked five, while striking out only one.
John Smoltz dominated in his major league debut on July 23, 1988 at Shea Stadium. He beat the Mets 6-1, allowing only four hits and a run in eight innings, striking out four and walking one.
Of those three, Hanson gets the most comparisons to Smoltz, given his electric stuff. So maybe that’s the kind of outing we’ll see from him today. (No pressure.) Course the Braves need to score some runs, or ahem, a run, to get him a win.
Another guy Hanson draws comparisons to for the build up to this day is Steve Avery. So Avery’s debut? Wow, just looked it up, and he got pounded. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings, gave up eight hits and eight runs – all earned – in a 13-4 loss to the Reds on June 13, 1990. And really, the Braves in 1990? I wasn’t around here much then, but it can’t have been even this much anticipation, could it have? Some of you old-timers chime in.
So hm, out of those four, including three Hall-of-Fame-bound guys, only one of them won his major league debut. (Sorry Maddog, we’re playing it by the book here.) Maybe Hanson will actually look human today. Or maybe he’ll look like he did for much of spring training – totally dominant.
It’ll be interesting to see, to say the least.
ROSTER MOVE: Meanwhile, the Braves put Casey Kotchman on the disabled list, retro to June 1, with a strained right calf. He tested it out in an on-the-field workout for Bobby Cox this morning and just didn’t have the mobility he needed.
“He’s at least five days away,” Cox said. “He’ll have to let it settle down and heal up.”
Kotchman would be eligible to return the first game of the Braves three-game series in Cincinnati on June 16. At this point, we’ll have to wait and see if he progresses well enough to get there. Meanwhile, they’ve got Martin Prado to play first base, and backing him up, Cox said, are Greg Norton and Matt Diaz.
CHIPPER BETTER: Chipper Jones is back in the lineup and really said he felt better by the ninth inning last night after leaving the game with dizziness. He’s not sure what was going on – he doesn’t think that he was dehydrated, and he said the only other time he’s felt that way was in reaction to some medication he takes for migraines. But he seems to be fine now, so we move ahead.
McCANN BAT DAY: So yeah, wouldn’t you know it’s Brian McCann bat day and there’s no Brian McCann in the lineup. Sounds like the marketing department forgot to consult with the manager or look for a game that wasn’t a day game after a night game.
When I told Cox it was McCann bat day, he said “Maybe he’ll get the game-winner off the bench.” Maybe so.
McLOUTH HITTING LEADOFF: After two games in the No. 3 hole, Cox decided to move Nate McLouth to the leadoff spot. He’s hit in both places comfortably, and I was a little surprised that wasn’t where he hit when he first got here. But Bobby loves McLouth’s home run potential, as well as his speed, and was eyeing him hitting homers with men on base.
Cox said against the left-hander today (Manny Parra), he wanted to give it a different look. McLouth said when he first got here Cox told him he was going to test him out in both spots.
“We’re going to toy with it and see,” Cox said this morning to me.
Whatever it takes to get this team out of this 22-inning scoreless streak. Speaking of, here’s the lineup, then I’ll back out of the way and let Mr. Hanson take center stage….
1. Nate McLouth CF
2. Yunel Escobar SS
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Matt Diaz LF
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Martin Prado 1B
7. Kelly Johnson 2B
8. David Ross C
9. Tommy Hanson P