Minor starts Grapefruit opener; Hanson nearing return

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Mike Minor will start Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against Detroit, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn’t ready to announce the rest of his pitching plans for the first week of spring training games.

That delay could stem from Tommy Hanson’s situation, as the Braves wait to get a better idea when Hanson will be ready to pitch in games after recovering from a concussion.

Gonzalez said starters for the second through fifth games would come from the group of five that includes, in an order to be determined later, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado.

Jurrjens and Beachy will start games, and the other starts would go to two from among Medlen, Teheran and Delgado, with one in that group “piggybacking” in a game with another starter. Starters will work a maximum of two innings the first time through.

Medlen is projected to begin the season in the bullpen, but the Braves are getting him “stretched out” this spring in case things happen and they end up needing him to start.

Veteran Tim Hudson is expected to miss most or all of April, leaving two openings in the starting rotation being contested by Minor and top prospects Teheran and Delgado. General manager Frank Wren said Minor, the only left-hander and most experienced of the trio, has an edge over Teheran and Delgado entering the competition.

Hanson back on mound

The rather tedious concussion-recovery process for Hanson is nearly over, as the right-hander returned to the mound Wednesday and threw 30 pitches without incident. He will probably face hitters in batting practice Friday.

Hanson missed the first week of workouts with a Grade 1 concussion and only resumed throwing Sunday. He won’t start a Grapefruit League game the first time through the spring-training rotation, but could be inserted soon after.

Because he spent much of January and early February working on a smoother, hitch-free pitching delivery, Hanson had already thrown seven or eight bullpen sessions before reporting to spring training.

“It felt good to be back out there,” he said, adding that his new delivery felt better Wednesday than in the pre-spring training sessions in Atlanta, “because I’ve had some time to think about some mechanical stuff. I was surprised how well I threw. I felt loose on the 30 pitches.”

Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell said he doesn’t think the spring-training workouts Hanson missed set him back much, if at all. The Braves plan to have him make one of the first four starts of the regular season, although Gonzalez indicated it would probably not be Opening Day.

Before the concussion, Hanson and Jurrjens were  leading candidates for the Opening Day start with Hudson recovering from back surgery. Jurrjens now looks to be the frontrunner for the assignment.

22 comments Add your comment

TippinTheCap

February 29th, 2012
2:27 pm

Greg Norton

February 29th, 2012
2:35 pm

@Frank Wren- I’m still available if you need a bat. I can switch hit and play any position.

jim

February 29th, 2012
2:40 pm

Since a starter typically goes 2 innings the first time out, it doesn’t matter much if he gets the first 2 innings or he next 2. In two or three weeks time when they start going 4 or more, then it will be interesting to see how the innings get divided between the 6 + Hanson.

Joe

February 29th, 2012
2:42 pm

Does anyone know where to find the Braves spring training schedule that includes tv appearances?

lanier

February 29th, 2012
2:56 pm

on the braves site. most are mlb tv

jch

February 29th, 2012
3:00 pm

Looks like their showcasing Minor early. Maybe Wren has something cooking for LF with some pop…

Trainwreck

February 29th, 2012
3:08 pm

Can’t wait for some baseball!!

Michael Procton

February 29th, 2012
3:18 pm

That’s funny, Greg. I had heard you were managing in AAA. Maybe that’s not you, huh?

Andy Dandy

February 29th, 2012
3:27 pm

jch…I hope you’re right about showcasing Minor in attempt to land a big bat. Unfortunately, showcasing him might lower his value, if others see in him what I do. And that’s not much. He has no pitch that’s really good. Even though he played at my son’s alma mater, I’ve never been impressed with him.

Television Schedule

February 29th, 2012
4:01 pm

Kevin

February 29th, 2012
4:29 pm

This is probably a dated question, but when/why did the Braves stop playing GT/UGA for their spring opener?

jch

February 29th, 2012
4:45 pm

Andy Dandy – I hear you but I think you’re over-estimating the quality of major league starters. The elite guys are “elite” the rest are pretty bad. Minor may not shine in Atlanta due to our wealth of good arms but elsewhere he’s a solid #3/4/5 starter. Even with the Braves, he’s the incumbent #5 and let’s face it, Wren, Fredi and Co. know a bit more than we do about starting pitching.

jch

February 29th, 2012
4:47 pm

I hadn’t even thought about who starts opening day. I had just gotten used to saying “why the f### is Lowe out there!”

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

February 29th, 2012
6:23 pm

Glad that Hanson is healing up and feeling better. Freeman feeling better too.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

February 29th, 2012
6:26 pm

Also, I found some great barbecue last week in Dalton, GA on the Cleveland Hwy. Southern Smoker Barbecue. Darn good. They fix it like I used to. They cook it slow, so you can eat it fast.

Found another BBQ joint today in Blue Ridge, GA — off the beaten path, but called Blue Ridge Barbecue. Darn good.

You barbecue fans should try them if you are in their respective areas.

bvillebaron

February 29th, 2012
6:27 pm

Andy Dandy:

Not to impune your scouting abiities, but a lot of other baseball personnel who get paid to do that kind of thing ARE impressed by Minor.

Who Me?

February 29th, 2012
6:35 pm

@jch – agreed, it’s nice having Lowe out of the saddle and now someone else’s problem. Who starts at this point of the year is useless. FG will give a few guys time to air it out this month and then make up his mind for the first few weeks. Moylan and Cueball Hudson get back in May, by then we’ll have a pretty good idea where they will fit and who’s starting.

I can see coaching staff’s mind is made up to at least open with Medlen in the BP but this kid is going to make it difficult on somebody in the top 5 by the end of April.

Still looking for some lumber in the lineup, need some O to balance out that pitching staff..

Andy Dandy

February 29th, 2012
7:18 pm

jch & bvillebaron–On this very same blog last year about the same time, I said Freeman would hit more HRs than Heyward IF he has as many ABs because Heyward had a flawed swing. Was I wrong??? I would be glad to be wrong about Minor. He seems like a nice kid, as does Heyward. We’ll see.

David O'Brien

February 29th, 2012
7:37 pm

You guys are going to want to read the unconventional story of Braves minor league slugger Evan Gattis. Trust me.

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2012/02/29/braves-slugger-gattis-has-a-story-man-does-he-ever/

Mark's for the Braves

March 1st, 2012
1:32 pm

Does anyone know when the Braves regular season schedule with TV station broadcasts will be released?

Bill

March 1st, 2012
1:36 pm

Great story Dave..Thanks.

Barb

March 1st, 2012
3:13 pm

Andy Dandy you best watch what you say round these parts. This ain’t the place open forum and free discussion. This is for Mr Obrien’s non opinion, his clones to thank and agree and for eatery tips. Anything much past that and you are going to get a yelling at.

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