Well, at least it was a great three innings

 

Tommy Hanson looked like an All-Star for the first three innings and something significantly less than that in the next three. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

Tommy Hanson looked like an All-Star for the first three innings in his debut Sunday but something significantly less than that in the next three. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

As major league debuts go, Tommy Hanson couldn’t quite slide in through the back door.

Tales of his minor-league starts seemed like mythology. Sounds of fans screaming his name had been echoing in the blogosphere since spring training. Then the Braves suddenly decided to drop Tom Glavine through a trap door, the Bat Phone rang in Gwinnett and trumpets started blaring.

You half-expected Hanson to be delivered onto the pitcher’s mound by helicopter Sunday.

There’s a downside to this. It makes for a louder crash.

For the first three innings, Hanson showed he could be baseball’s next dominant pitcher. For the next three, he reaffirmed there will be a learning curve before he gets there. When he left after the sixth, he trailed, 7-5. Only an unlikely Braves’ offensive explosion – and he better not get used to that – salvaged a no-decision for him in the team’s 8-7 win over Milwaukee at Turner Field.

“Frustrated,” Hanson said when asked how he felt walking off the mound after the Brewers’ two-homer, four-run sixth inning, which figured to be his last. “I felt like my command of the fastball was totally different than it had been. But that’s just the first one. It’s totally behind me right now.”

It’s almost unfair when expectations are so high. Couple the buildup with Glavine’s release, a large home crowd and family and friends in attendance, Hanson could’ve been excused if he spontaneously combusted before his first pitch.

To his credit, he didn’t. He retired the first 10 Milwaukee batters.  He struck out the side in the second. He had a 2-0 lead in the fourth. It looked like he was still pitching in Gwinnett, where he was 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA and 61 strikeouts over his last seven starts.

But, hey, as general manager Frank Wren told us when he tried to justify Glavine’s release, you just can’t go by stats in the minors. (Yeah. I had to get that in.)

Hanson learned the hard way that major league hitters make you pay for mistakes with your fastball. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

Hanson learned the hard way that major league hitters make you pay for mistakes with your fastball. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

The first time through the order, the Brewers looked mesmerized. The second time through, they looked like somebody other than Syracuse or Toledo or Durham. (After 10 straight outs, eight of the next 13 batters reached base and seven scored, three with home runs.)

Welcome to north of Triple-A, kid.

Hanson said he wasn’t nervous, just “excited.” He said he wasn’t overwhelmed by the moment. He said he just threw too many fastballs over the plate. At 95 miles per hour, you can get away with that in the International League. Not so much in the just domestic National.

J.J. Hardy was the first Brewer to reach base, via Yunel Escobar’s fielding error. Ryan Braun was the first to get a hit – and it traveled 382 feet over the left-field wall.

It got worse. Milwaukee pitcher Manny Parra, batting .059 as he stepped to the plate in the fifth, slapped a run-scoring double to right. Braun and Mike Cameron each slammed two-run homers in the sixth.

In the end, Hanson allowed only six hits. The problem was, three landed in Midtown.

His summary: “A couple of times, the fastball just went where I didn’t want it to go.”

Manager Bobby Cox was impressed with his “stuff.” Pitching coach Roger McDowell was impressed with his composure (“He looked the same after he gave up the home runs as he did when he struck out the side.”)

Hanson: “There was some good and some bad, obviously.”

He turned his cell phone off Saturday night. He didn’t turn it back on until after the game.

“I’ve got a ton of messages,” he said.

Next time, expect a quieter entrance. Reality checks will do that.

152 comments Add your comment

JD

June 7th, 2009
7:11 pm

A lot of hyped rookie pitchers have performed pretty good in their first few games – Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Clay Buchholz, etc. That doesn’t mean everybody will be successful. Tommy showed us he CAN be dominant, it’s just going to take some time before he’s consistent with it.

JD

June 7th, 2009
7:11 pm

oops….sorry Jeff. Was I supposed to say “First!!”?

athensdawg

June 7th, 2009
7:20 pm

what could be better for the young pitcher who is a product of the system than to sit at the feet of Tom Glavine. in fact, what could be better for all the young pitchers….

let’s keep frenchy…the next brad kommisk….and get rid of someone who could really help the team from a mental aspect.

great move by the braves.

country boy

June 7th, 2009
7:37 pm

Hello Jeffy boy. Nice read on Hanson and I agree totally that he has talent yet there will be a learning curve. Just wanted to say WOW about the Brewers. Though not made of stars they were professional, competent and focused. Hope Bobby had is notepad out.

Steve

June 7th, 2009
7:48 pm

Enough of the Glavine stuff!!! He probably would have given up 10 runs in the first two innings. What would he teach the young pitchers? How to whine when things don’t go your way?

Novice Ned

June 7th, 2009
7:54 pm

I recall reading the words “The Shaefer Era Begins” previously on ajc.com. Let’s hope that the “Hanson Era” has a better beginning. It will also be interesting to see if Hanson becomes Francouer and Medlan takes the role of McCann. One pair mega-hyped and the other pair arrived with very little fanfare. Time will tell. We all know how the position players turned out.

Jeff Schultz

June 7th, 2009
8:09 pm

JD — right on target. (And yeah: first!)

Athensdawg: I do believe I detect some sarcasm. But I could be wrong.

Countryboy: Brewers play hard. Somebody should get the credit for that.

Steve: You get over it. Yeah. Right. A Hall of Fame pitcher and known to be one of the smartest guys ever to take the mound and work a count and the corners would have nothing to teach young pitchers? Whatever.

Ted Striker

June 7th, 2009
8:09 pm

Glavine wouldn’t have lasted one inning. (I had to get that in.)

nick manning

June 7th, 2009
8:20 pm

He’ll be great. He only made a few really bad pitches…really happy it wasn’t Glavine!

Reid Adair

June 7th, 2009
8:27 pm

When will people like “Steve,” “Ted Striker” and “nick manning” get over it, Jeff? Glavine is gone. There really is no need to keep beating the dead horse.

So many people thought Tommy Hanson was going throw a complete-game shutout and that Glavine would have gotten rocked. Well, guess what? Hanson got rocked, but THE BRAVES WON THE GAME.

Hanson proved he’s just human like everyone else, so I guess people like “Steve,” “Ted Striker” and “nick manning” feel better by continuing to bash Glavine.

Jeff Schultz

June 7th, 2009
8:42 pm

Not sure, Reid, but I think Striker was joking. You were joking, weren’t you Striker? Because if not, you’re dead to me.

Jeff Schultz

June 7th, 2009
8:44 pm

Let me also add that I’m assuming there would’ve been 100 bash-Glavine comments by now if Hanson had come out and thrown a shutout right out of the box. Would’ve made for an easy setup. But suddenly it’s like (almost) everybody has been muted.

Ted Striker

June 7th, 2009
8:54 pm

Will you at least put flowers on my grave on this date every year?

I didn’t have a problem with the release, I cannot tell a lie. (Actually, I’m pretty good at telling fibs but I reserve that for when I meet women half my age here in Athens.)

Sarah

June 7th, 2009
9:02 pm

That is hillarious. Yes…lets keep a guy who only won two games for us last year. Hanson has a bright future. It takes some of the best pitchers a little time… and as for keeping frenchy….I say trade him now while he even has a little value left. I bet he’s just kicking himself for not signing the deal offered to him the same time as mccann. I like him..but he’s gotta go. Send him to Texas and maybe Andruw can give him a few pointers.

guy

June 7th, 2009
9:06 pm

Tom Glavine shouldn’t be surprised.Besides,he made 4 million per win in 2008. That’s more than fair,don’t you think? Time stops for no man!

wawel78

June 7th, 2009
9:09 pm

I’m not sure what you want people to say. Hanson got roughed up in the 4-5-6. He looked unbelievable in 1-2-3. Glad you can be objective and give the guy more than 100 pitches in his first start. I really liked what I saw today.

And again, you’re delusional if you don’t think Hanson makes the team better than Glavine.

lawton

June 7th, 2009
9:11 pm

braves just need to channel themselves back to 1991. get a SPEED leadoff hitter. get a defensive first baseman , they are improving the power in the outfield, and work on having the best rotation in the league. the weak spots, and people are gonna say its not, is chippers limited range at third base, obviously frenchy’s bat and that GLARING lack of speed at the top of the order. getting back to chipper, he is NOT the reason the braves are a bad team, he just contributes to them being a below average defensive team. reminds u of josh smith of the hawks, they score, but make turnovers. anyway, they need to get back to the original blueprint. hanson is a step in that direction.

Dawg95

June 7th, 2009
9:16 pm

MB….there are no bash Glavine comments because he has been an afterthought for quite some time now. He is really old news, so please let it go. But I have to give you credit as a “journalist” for trying. Nobody cares about him. He was good. Now he’s not. And if you continue down this road Mark, you will get a boarding pass on the same boat!

The real story today was that Hanson started out well, but faltered late. And Chipper was off the hook, and McClouth and Yunnel came up with huge hits to win the game!! Is that so hard Bradley? Is that not the game you saw? I dare you to say no!!

Mike

June 7th, 2009
9:23 pm

All we need are Phil Niekro, Steve Avery and Charlie Liebrandt to make a push the rest of the season.

Why, oh why, did we let them go?

diesel 13

June 7th, 2009
9:25 pm

Let’s be honest, the Braves aren’t going to make the playoffs this year so I’d much rather see a young 22 year old get experience the rest of the way and be ready for 2010 instead of Glavine eating up his innings. That is all this boils down to.

eric the elder

June 7th, 2009
9:28 pm

At age 74, I’ve stopped being concerned about who got traded, who was brought up, who was released. I don’t care about Bobby’s pollyanna interviews, or Chipper’s mumbling, or Glavine’s emotional status.

I just like to watch baseball. Whichever 9 guys are out there is fine with me.

If a pitcher makes $8 million per year, and if he pitches 200 innings, he gets $40,000 per inning – - more than a great many make in a year. If he averages 16 pitches per inning, he gets $2500 per pitch.

If he hits a batter, he gets $2500. If he walks a batter on four pitches, he gets $10,000. If he gives up a grand slam or otherwise stinks up the place, he still cashes big checks.

These are very wealthy guys playing for very wealthy owners. I don’t care about them. I just enjoy the game. It gives us a little distraction from the things that are important.

hf2

June 7th, 2009
9:28 pm

Because mike the were has beens and getting old.

Mark

June 7th, 2009
9:28 pm

Glavine showed what he had left last year. Plain and simply.

tashunka

June 7th, 2009
9:30 pm

Hanson looked like a washed up scrub. Can we trade him for someone younger. His time was finished on the second trip through the lineup. Seems like Glavine could make several trips through lineups without the hitters know what was coming. Good luck praising a never will be.

bravesfanbob

June 7th, 2009
9:36 pm

Give it up Glavine whiners…. He left for a million dollars extra from the mets, $31 million instead of $30 million from the Braves, and he was fired over a million dollars. That’s a pretty funny irony! HE WAS DONE! An 85 MPH fastball! And he won all of 58 games over the last 6 years, including the fantastic performance 2 years ago against Florida where he gave up 7 runs in less than an inning in the potential division championship clinching game. Look, he was awesome in his time, but it’s over! Hanson will take his lumps several times this year, but it’s a great learning experience, and will win as many as he loses. By the way, Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz all got tattooed in their first couple of years. They won about 900 games between the 3, so I’m willing to wait. All you Glavine whiners put on your big girl panties and deal with it!

kurula

June 7th, 2009
9:36 pm

the overall tone of this suggests to me that you are vilifying tommy hanson for the (mis)treatment of tom glavine. it seems to have a haughty ‘HAHAHA! not as easy as you thought it was gonna be, hey, son?’ quality to it. sure, it sucks about glavine but it’s not this kid’s fault. he just wants to pitch like anyone else. the fact that it’s in the spot that glavine would be pitching in seems to have left a bitter taste in your mouth. but if you are going to have negativity and hold grudges at least direct it towards the ones who make the personnel decisions and not a young guy who is seeing his dreams come true.

chas

June 7th, 2009
9:39 pm

Any chance we could get Juan Pierre? Guy is hitting well over .300 and has speed. Send Frenchy down to the minors. We’d still have a power shortage, but at least we’d have someone that can get on base. I guess his salary might be a problem. Send Mclouth to right field and put Pierre in center.

wawel78

June 7th, 2009
9:44 pm

uhm, I’m pretty sure this is a Jeff Schultz article.

drmiked

June 7th, 2009
9:51 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Glavine and Smoltz during their tenure in Atlanta. They were the ones saying baseball is a business when they chose to leave for more money rather than stay in Atlanta. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. I will applaud for them upon their indoctrinations to the HOF. In the meantime, their whining and criticisms are pathetic.
and irrelevant.

tashunka

June 7th, 2009
9:53 pm

Sink baby. Sink,

Stan

June 7th, 2009
9:56 pm

Thanks for the hard work today Hanson……keep making positive steps

the evil rich

June 7th, 2009
9:59 pm

Nice observations, but it’s long overdue for Cox to be gone or at the very least Pendleton to go. What’s up with Escobar? How many brain freezes can you have in a season and still be in the everyday lineup?

john

June 7th, 2009
10:02 pm

I am so glad that newspaper columnists and fans who are sitting on their butts in the living rooms have an uncluttered view into how the minds of Braves management work. Very impressive how many people know exactly why Glavine was released and why Hanson was called up. Yep, very impressive.

Robards

June 7th, 2009
10:06 pm

There will be some growing pains, but Hansen has nothing left to prove in the minors. Give him a few starts and see what happens. True that the Glavine situation could’ve been handled better.

scottbravesfan

June 7th, 2009
10:08 pm

Who cares about Tom Glavine the guy left in 2002 for a couple of million more to our arch rivals. Now he wants to talk about feeling betrayed? Come on Tom.

As for Hanson the guy was good. Looked like he had an adrenaline dump and started losing command. It happens. Anyone thinking he is going to be Roy Haladay this year is delusional. Let the guy get 10 starts under his belt and then we can judge how good his rookie year is going to be. Come talk to me this time next year and see how good Tommy Hanson is.

Cardog10

June 7th, 2009
10:12 pm

I’m sick of people going strictly on stats. It wasn’t a bad start. He looked amazing, and had a perfect game through the 4th inning. Yes, he made some mistakes (especially to Braun)… but he looked great beyond his mistakes. This isn’t football or something, Schultz… why do nerds right sports columns anyways?
He has great stuff and I can’t wait to see him again.

scott

June 7th, 2009
10:13 pm

Smoltz and Glavine need to stop crying, its a business and they showed no loyalty to leave for other teams, why should the Braves show them any now. Ironic Glavine left for a million dollars 6 years ago, and that is what we save (and more) by letting him go. Karma my friends.
Maddux was always my favorite, now I see why!

JD

June 7th, 2009
10:14 pm

Thanks for the observation, wawel78

Cardog10

June 7th, 2009
10:15 pm

WRITE* – I’m sure that was going to be your comeback.

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 7th, 2009
10:15 pm

Chipper was reported to have “tingling extremities” . . . not sure exactly what that is but combined with dizziness and a sore toe it took him out of the game. Of course, he came back with a wonderful game today. Glavine was a victim of “cold ringfinger” and now we have Hanson who may have more normal maladies like leaving the fastball up in the zone.

Francoeur continues to demonstrate a ten cent head. Does Bobby ever scold or reprimand – or better, does he ever instruct? There is a huge hole in the lineup and his name is Francoeur.

Jeff, I first thought Bradley might be the “Best of Cox” winner this year but you are making some inroads. $1,000 to the winner and a little splash of color with every column. Makes my extremities tingle thinking about it.

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

triplec

June 7th, 2009
10:16 pm

I’m looking forward to watching Hanson pitch and adjust to the bigs and really see what he can do.
I just wonder if the rangers will trade us Andruw for Jeff “make the 3rd out in ever at bat” frenchy. I mean how much longer do we have to deal with the worst right fielder in baseball? As my uncle would say, trade him for a pile of brush then burn the brush pile

Cardog10

June 7th, 2009
10:19 pm

Glavine was behind the ‘94 strike… he is the biggest supporter of taking more money. If anyone should support that business side of this deal, it would be Glavine. Oh, now he cares… since it didn’t benefit him. It benefited an entire organization and team not to pay his lame arm $4.5 million. But not when he left us for our rivals. Oh the irony…

scottbravesfan

June 7th, 2009
10:21 pm

And just in case you didn’t follow Hanson in the minors at every new level he struggled in his first couple of starts before getting into a groove. Once he got settled he dominated.

Jordan

June 7th, 2009
10:34 pm

I’m getting sick and tired of a few of the AJC writers.
Give it a break.
It was Hanson’s FIRST GAME.

Lincecum, Price, or Felix weren’t impressive either in their debuts.

Give it a rest…

ITP Brave

June 7th, 2009
10:41 pm

Hanson’s first start wasn’t perfect, but he showed why the Braves’ fans should be excited about the future. Hopefully Heyward has as much talent with the bat. (And, I’ve heard he does.)

I’m not sure why I see so many posts gloating about Glavine (including Schultz). If the Brewers were taking 95mph deep, imagine what they would have done with 78mph when Glavine wasn’t getting the call 4-5 inches off of the plate. Sure, they knocked Hanson around for seven runs in six innings. But, Glavine would have given that up in two innings- or less.

I’m not sure I see the “victory” for the pro-Glavine crowd. Maybe someone can explain it to me. Perhaps he/she can also explain why Glavine is filing a grievance with the union for that $1Million the Braves “owe” him when it’s not about the money for Tommy.

mike

June 7th, 2009
10:45 pm

Well, after sitting in the stadium and watching the game, I believe Hanson must be Italian because he consistently served up meatballs. Every time I looked up, another was leaving the park. All you “wow, what a great 3 innings” guys need to get a grip. He was not that good. Time will tell.

PMC

June 7th, 2009
10:48 pm

glad to see Hanson in the Majors where he should have been all along.

The win and the 8 runs and comeback the best of this this day, nicely done Eric O.

The only bit that has to do with Glavine also has to do with Hanson because both of these moves are quite obviously monitarily motivated and have little to do with eithers performance the 2nd or 3rd time through the lineup card so to speak.

Performance was an incredibly thinly veiled attempt at getting out of a grevience should one be filed. Of course it’s about money. It’s ALWAYS about money. Especially when your owners are a corporation that has stock holders.

PMC

June 7th, 2009
10:50 pm

Hanson is going to be very very good I think. He’s just got to get it dialed in at this level like he has everywhere else.

PMC

June 7th, 2009
10:52 pm

honestly, a win is a win is a win. The offense and the bullpen picked him up today. Next time, he can do it.

All that really matters is the W.

Whizard

June 7th, 2009
10:53 pm

Hey there Schultz…you and some other people who thought Hanson was going to come up and be Roy Halladay in his first start need to get a grip on reality…Please go ahead and tell me the numvers of Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux First carreer Start….Where they “at least great for 3 innings”???