LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The night before he was scheduled to pitch against the Boston Red Sox last season, Tommy Hanson had a 104-degree fever and was feeling the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. In the words of Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, “He looked like a stewed tomato.”
Hanson showed up at the stadium the next morning. He was still ill. He was dehydrated and somewhat wobbly. Then he threw six shutout innings and led the Braves past the Red Sox, 2-1.
“The great ones,” McDowell said, “are the ones who don’t miss starts. That’s the key to being a top-of-the-rotation guy. A lot of guys have talent. The great ones have a presence – a very self-assured presence. That combination is fairly rare.”
Funny thing about Tommy Hanson. Last spring, he was the flavor of the month. This spring, he often is spotted sitting alone in front of his locker, while