LAKELAND, Fla. – While their top pitching prospects got pounded at Lakeland on Sunday, one of the Braves’ best starting pitchers took another step toward returning.
Tommy Hanson threw five minutes of batting practice at the Braves’ training site in Lake Buena Vista, the first time he faced hitters since a Feb. 20 one-car accident left Hanson with a Grade 1 concussion.
Braves officials said Hanson looked and felt good during the session. He’ll do the same thing Tuesday, then increase his workload if all goes as planned.
He could make his first start in another week, during the second time through the rotation. That could be pushed back if he’s not ready that soon, but Hanson isn’t far behind despite missing the first week of spring training.
Because he had worked so much on his delivery in January and early February, eliminating the former hitch in his throwing motion, Hanson estimated he’d already thrown seven bullpens before spring training began.
Kris Medlen is scheduled to start Tuesday against Washington in the Braves’ fourth Grapefruit League game. If Hanson is ready five days later, he would move into that spot in the rotation.
Freddie Freeman could be in the Braves lineup on Tuesday, one week after he partially dislocated his right knee.
The first baseman took batting practice Saturday and was to hit and field grounders Sunday while the Braves were at Lakeland. He had hoped to play Monday against Houston, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday was the tentative target date.
Freeman had a subluxation of the patella (kneecap) in his right knee, the same injury he had two years ago in Triple-A. Because it was a repeat injury in a relatively short period, he’ll wear a knee brace now and he said probably for the rest of his career.
Gonzalez joked that if he saw Freeman practicing or playing without the brace, he’d kick him in the shin.
Parraz off to good start
After getting the Braves’ only hit in Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener, journeyman outfielder Jordan Parraz got their first RBI of the spring on Sunday. He had a two-out single in eighth inning of an 18-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers, after the Braves scored a run earlier in the inning when shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons grounded sharply into a double play.
Parraz, 27, signed as a minor-league free agent this winter after hitting .289 with a .362 on-base percentage, six triples and nine home runs in 126 games last season for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.
“He’s interesting,” Gonzalez said of Parraz, who also made an impressive catch near the right-field foul line Saturday. “He can do some things. He runs well, and you should see him throw.”
Parraz has never had a major league callup despite a .289 average and .373 OBP in eight minor league seasons with the Astros, Royals and Yankees organizations. He’s never hit more than 14 homers, and totaled 55 doubles and 20 homers the past two seasons in Triple-A.
He signed with the Braves hoping there might be an opening at some point.
“I always try to hope there’s an opportunity and I go after it like there is an opportunity,” Parraz said. “You’ve got to play hard, and try to turn some guys’ heads. But just try to learn, try to get better, and eventually maybe there’s an opportunity. If not you’ve just got to try to get better and be ready when you get a chance.”
The Tigers have beaten the Braves twice in two days, and had as many homers each day as the Braves had hits (one Saturday, nine Sunday)…. Rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and an error Sunday…. Third-base prospect Joe Terdoslavich came off the bench to go 2-for-2…. Lakeland is a short (40-minute) bus ride, but for Sunday’s game the Braves brought just two projected lineup regulars, Pastornicky and left fielder Martin Prado, who went 2-for-3. Fourth outfielder Matt Diaz served as DH…. The Braves travel to Kissimmee to face the Astros Monday and will start Jair Jurrjens against RH Jordan Lyles. Planned Braves relievers include Cory Gearrin, Todd Redmond, Erik Cordier and lefty Luis Avilan.