SEATTLE — Tommy Hanson’s second bullpen session Sunday was better than the first two days earlier, and the Braves right-hander was excited about returning from the DL to start Tuesday.
He missed two starts recovering from rotator-cuff tendinitis in his pitching shoulder.
“It feels good,” Hanson said. “Just getting back my game. It’s been a couple of weeks. I just want to get back out there and hopefully pick up where I left off.”
He’s 8-4 with a 2.48 ERA that is the third-lowest among NL starters behind teammate Jair Jurrjens (2.07) and Phillies ace Roy Halladay (2.40).
Hanson is coming back without making a minor-league rehab start. After resting nearly a week, he’s thrown two flat-ground sessions and two bullpen sessions.
“I don’t think I took long enough off to have to make a rehab start,” he said. “The sooner I get back out there, for me, the better. Everything feels good. There shouldn’t be any problems.”
Center fielder Jordan Schafer hit .292 with a double, six walks, two strikeouts and a .433 OBP in his first six games after arriving from Triple-A last month.
But in 23 games since then, he was 19-for-93 (.204) with six walks, 20 strikeouts and a .253 OBP, albeit with six extra-base hits and eight steals in 10 attempts.
Schafer was out of the lineup Monday because manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted to give rookie backup Wilkin Ramirez a start. Ramirez was in left and Nate McLouth moved back over from left to his original center-field spot, which Schafer has played since McLouth strained an oblique last month.
With Schafer’s production down, Gonzalez was asked about possibly moving McLouth back to the leadoff spot, where he has plenty of experience.
“For me, that is the place [Schafer’s] got to hit,” Gonzalez said. “I guess you could flip-flop Nate and him, but I think Nate’s been comfortable down there and turns the lineup over. He does a good job down there.”
McLouth was 5-for-18 with three doubles, five walks and a .458 on-base percentage in seven games since returning last week from DL.
For the season, he was batting .324 with a .462 OBP in 24 games at the No. 8 spot, with eight doubles, two homers and 16 runs.
McCann’s All-Star lead grows
Brian McCann had more than 3 million All-Star votes, far ahead of second-place Yadier Molina’s 2.27 million in fan balloting for National League catcher. Voting closes at MLB.com at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and McCann will likely be voted a starter for the first time in his sixth consecutive All-Star Game.
Chipper Jones was second among NL third basemen with 2.04 million votes, well behind the Phillies’ Placido Polanco (3.26 million).
Left fielder Martin Prado continues to progress in his return from staph infection and could be cleared to begin running and other baseball activities any day.
He has missed three weeks after having surgery to remove staph from his right calf. Incisions must be left unstitched and allowed to heal from the bottom up in the case of staph-infection surgical procedures.
Prado was cleared to begin light upper-body weight work last week, and over the weekend began working with a heavy medicine ball for upper-body and core conditioning.
The Braves hope to have him back before the All-Star break or soon after.