Hanson ready to move on with new delivery (and new car)

Tommy Hanson, potential staff ace, has been most a spectator so far in spring. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Tommy Hanson has been mostly a spectator so far in Braves' camp. (Jason Getz/AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – This was a good day for Tommy Hanson. He jogged, and his head didn’t explode. He played catch, and his shoulder didn’t throb. His car – still not so good. It remains on the disabled list. But relief is on the way.

“I bought a truck – so if something else happens I should be OK,” the Braves’ pitcher said, managing a smile.

Would you like to own a 2007 Infinity M45? If you order the CarFax, you’ll find it was in a significant accident in February of 2012. But the current owner is taking care of all repairs, and he says he can be talked into a few incentives to close the deal, maybe even a signed ball or a jersey.

“They said repairs are going to be at least $8,000,” said Hanson, believed to be the first Brave in history to arrive at spring training via tow truck. “The car’s pretty messed up. I’m going to sell it.

“If you know anybody who wants to buy it, tell them to contact me. They can buy, ‘The concussion car.’”

A little joke. It’s some indication Hanson has phased up in the healing process.

It has been a tough several months. This is a guy who could and should be the ace of the Braves’ starting rotation, more sooner than later. He is a power pitcher with a drop-off-the-table curve ball. Competitive, aggressive, desirous of being the best.

Hanson ran and did some light throwing Sunday for the first time since suffering a concussion. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Hanson ran and did some light throwing for first time since suffering a concussion. (Jason Getz/AJC)

“I want to be the ace,” he said.

He is that important to this team.

Health and a blown tire are throwing up obstacles. Hanson went 10-5 with a 2.44 earned run average before the All-Star break. But shoulder pain that actually began in late May worsened. He made only five starts in the second half (1-3, 8.10) before shutting it down in August. He was understandably concerned.

“When you’re a pitcher, your arm is your livelihood,” he said.

When you’re a power pitcher at the age of 25 and have had less than three full seasons in the majors, shoulder pain is like having transmission problems before you’ve even rotated the tires.

It would be one thing if Hanson’s talent suggested an obvious ceiling. It doesn’t. This isn’t the same kid whom the Braves drafted in the 22nd round – 677th overall – in 2005. The team didn’t even sign him right away. They played the then-available draft-and-follow card, which allowed the organization to retain his draft rights for a year while watching him play at Riverside (Calif.) Community College.

“I knew they weren’t going to sign me after the draft,” Hanson said. “So when I got drafted, I know it was supposed to be a big deal, but it really wasn’t.”

The Braves were impressed after a season. So in 2006, they gave him a contract with a $325,000 signing bonus. The California kid, by way of Tulsa, was thrilled. He went shopping. Guess what his first purchase was?

“I bought a car – yeah, that car,” he said. “Well, I bought a car and a bed, but the car was the big thing. My cousin came with me to test drive cars. The funny thing was, they all thought he was the one buying it since I was only 19 and he was like 28.”

Hanson’s Infinity never made it to camp last Monday. He said the car blew a tire, causing him to lose control. It skidded down an embankment and into a field about 90 feet before coming to a stop. Hanson banged his head and suffered a concussion. His camp: pushed back at least a week. He jogged for the first time Sunday. Three writers and two camera crews were in attendance. (”I’ve never had so much attention for running before.”) He threw lightly for 10 minutes. In a few days, he may throw off a mound.

But this delay is troublesome. Hanson is coming off a minor tear in his rotator cuff. He is changing his delivery, removing the hitch that is believed to have contributed to extra stress on the shoulder. He needs the work.

“I’m trying to take the positives out of all this,” he said.

Which are?

“It could’ve been a lot worse. I could’ve really been hurt.  I was scared. I think everybody who saw me when I walked in knew how I felt. I looked rattled.”

The Braves don’t believe Hanson’s delivery change will be a major adjustment. Tim Hudson called it “a tweak.” He said of Hanson’s old delivery, “It was kind of odd looking. But then you saw the ball explode out of his hand, and it was like. ‘Who cares?’”

The Braves need that pitcher again. Hanson believes he’ll get there before long. The room has stopped spinning and he’s moving on. He has a new delivery and a new vehicle — and he’ll cut you a deal on the old one.

By Jeff Schultz

72 comments Add your comment

DetroitBraves

February 26th, 2012
6:08 pm

DetroitBraves

February 26th, 2012
6:09 pm

I think I’m first in Jeff Schultz’s heart as well.

Sonny Clusters

February 26th, 2012
6:11 pm

That was beautiful.

Bill

February 26th, 2012
6:13 pm

The main thing is he is ok…Would like to see a picture of the car. Thanks jeff for info..

DetroitBraves

February 26th, 2012
6:18 pm

It will be interesting to see if not only can the new delivery keep him healthy, but if he can maintain his effectiveness. I sure hope so. Several top pitching prospects or not, as of right now Hanson is the ace of the staff.

Sonny Clusters

February 26th, 2012
6:31 pm

We was at the mall earlier and we saw a woman walking in front of us and she looked every bit like Sasquatch with great big shoulders and lots of hair all over walking with a shuffle and she was leaving tracks! We followed to see where she was heading but we kept our distance. We was shocked when she got to the food court and went right up to the Dairy Queen and ordered the Blizzard of the Month, Choco Cherry Love Blizzard- with Sweet cherries lovingly blended with rich choco chunks and creamy vanilla soft serve. We just went right up to the counter and ordered one for ourselves. We had a seat next to her and started talking baseball and found out she was a Chipper Jones fan and we had a good talk and then it was time for us o head home. We said our goodbyes and went our different ways but we both were Braves fans when we left. It was a new flavor for us and it’s a new delivery for Hanson and no one is looking back.

Asheville Dawg

February 26th, 2012
6:42 pm

Who can even follow Sonny Clusters?

1eyedJack

February 26th, 2012
6:46 pm

A hundred dollars for the car!! Cash money!

cattle dawg

February 26th, 2012
6:47 pm

I ran into Hanson back in December in Macon. He seems to be a cool guy and not a jerk like some professional athletes I’ve meet. Good luck to him and the Braves this year.

Mark. (another one)

February 26th, 2012
6:57 pm

The financial story about Lowe’s contract has me confused. When you discuss OIBDA, the point is to remove deprciation and amortization. It seems that the $10 million was an expense against a non-performing asset and should have been considered excelerated depreciation of Lowe’s contract. Applying it to the yearly number was an accounting trick to miss lead investors.

The Braves will be paying the $10 million from this year’s budget. Will Liberty count it twice?

Mark. (another one)

February 26th, 2012
6:58 pm

Sonny is an acquired taste. I enjoy his writing. Sometimes its hard to find the point but why do all posts require a point?

pro

February 26th, 2012
6:59 pm

cattle’s a jock sniffer.

1eyedJack

February 26th, 2012
7:21 pm

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 26th, 2012
7:24 pm

Is Hanson performing a “junk check” self examination in the pic?

SeATLite

February 26th, 2012
7:37 pm

Infiniti, Jeff, not Infinity.

Larry

February 26th, 2012
7:38 pm

“He is a power pitcher…”

Correction: He was a power pitcher when he first came up throwing in the mid 90’s, sometime reaching 96-97 mph.

Today, he has a batting practice fastball that’s straight as an arrow and with Hudson, Beachy, Minor Teheran, Delgado, and even the fast fading Jurrjens, he’s, at best, the 4th or 5th best starter on this team.

My pitching rotation:

Hudson (starts the opener)
Beachy
Delgado
Miner
Hanson (soon to be replace by Teheran)

1eyedJack

February 26th, 2012
7:44 pm

Hudson won’t even be on the active roster opening day.

Hillbilly D

February 26th, 2012
8:02 pm

They have DQ’s in the food court?

1eyedJack

February 26th, 2012
8:07 pm

150 dollars and a buy one-get one free coupon for a Southern Style chicken sandwich. My final offer!

1eyedJack

February 26th, 2012
8:14 pm

Wait. I used that coupon last week. 200 dollars, and I’ll sign HIS jersey! Not his ball though.

Larry

February 26th, 2012
8:35 pm

Then open with Beachy….

DawgDad

February 26th, 2012
8:38 pm

Hanson looks ready to play the ex-con biker jailbird loser in a B-movie, you know, the guy that gets beaten up by Brian Bosworth or Charlie Sheen or Vin Diesel.

cousin vicker

February 26th, 2012
8:53 pm

I’m with Larry. “Power pitchers” are supposed to top 90-91 mph on their fastball. Hudson, JJJ, and Beachy all have better fastballs. This guy is not that good.

Hillbilly D

February 26th, 2012
8:59 pm

It’s not important whether a guy is a power pitcher or a soft-tosser, what matters is that he gets people out.

ATLcracker

February 26th, 2012
9:25 pm

Can anyone name a major league pitcher who successfully made a radical change in his delivery AFTER he got to the majors?

Alphonzo

February 26th, 2012
9:26 pm

big red 1 of my fav playas HEle ya. hope he come up big this season 4 i have 2 hate him when borsi sign him to ynakees n his career slops

Alphonzo

February 26th, 2012
9:27 pm

@ATLcracker dat MFer Paul Byrd lol remembe him?

Hillbilly D

February 26th, 2012
9:29 pm

ATLcracker

Kent Tekulve or Dan Quisenberry, maybe? I was thinking one of them became a submariner after that had no success with a conventional delivery. I could be wrong, though; that’s been a while.

Hillbilly D

February 26th, 2012
9:30 pm

DetroitBraves

February 26th, 2012
9:49 pm

@ATLcracker, it was short-lived but remember the year Smoltz had arm problems and threw side-arm for a while? He was still good doing it. I think it may have been 1999.

Rick

February 26th, 2012
9:50 pm

Enter your comments here

Rick

February 26th, 2012
9:51 pm

Speed aside, he had an excellent K per 9IP last season prior to getting hurt.

“Can anyone name a major league pitcher who successfully made a radical change in his delivery AFTER he got to the majors?”

From what has been said about it, it doesn’t sound like a very radical change at all.

DetroitBraves

February 26th, 2012
10:04 pm

Just looking at Hanson’s PitchFX data. He was 91.1 last year after a 92.7 average the year before and 92.2 the year before that. The differential from that to his off-speed stuff has stayed about the same. He gained vertical movement but lost horizontal movement. Did he throw more 2-seamers last year? I don’t believe the data differentiates.

Loosing Managar = Loosing Record

February 26th, 2012
10:12 pm

Everone no Hansen was drunk as a skunk. thats Y he wrecked. U all need 2 get over it and no he has a drinkin problem.

ijonathan

February 26th, 2012
10:34 pm

ATLcracker

February 26th, 2012
9:25 pm
Can anyone name a major league pitcher who successfully made a radical change in his delivery AFTER he got to the majors?

=====

Roy Halladay in his early days with Toronto. They sent him down to A-ball to work with instructor Mel Queen on his delivery. They lowered his arm angle a bit, gave hime more movement, rest is history.

bulldogbubba

February 26th, 2012
10:38 pm

Just proves the world still goes round when a Clusters will share a Blizzard with a Sasquatch.Hope Hanson becomes a lead pitcher. The youth of this team need to start drivin’ the train to the post season and not leave it to the veterans. PlaybalL

TheAntiMe

February 27th, 2012
12:22 am

Is Hanson performing a “junk check” self examination in the pic?

lol – Well, Chef, he did say that he was “trying to take the positives out of all this.” In this case, a 2-0 count is most definitely a positive. :)

reckingball

February 27th, 2012
12:54 am

ATLcracker @9:25pm…….I don’t know how successful you would call it, but Rick Ankiel made a radical change is his delivery, AFTER he got to the majors.

reckingball

February 27th, 2012
1:03 am

I’m surprised that no one in the flock of old hens is wagging their toungue about Hanson looking like he is fat(in his sweats), like they were cackling about Chipper.

Rusty

February 27th, 2012
7:36 am

Is his fastball supposed to be any different now? If not, he needs to drop that ego he seems to have about being a ‘power pitcher’ and change his approach. You can’t be a power pitcher when your fastball is in the low 90s. Doesn’t mean you can’t be good but you can’t try to pitch like Nolan Ryan when you throw about as hard as Greg Maddux did in his prime.

DetroitBraves

February 27th, 2012
7:54 am

His average fastball is down a tick from the last 2 years. I read an old scouting report where they had him at around 96 mph in the minors before he was called up. My question is – can he still hit 96 when he wants to, I mean is he pacing himself at a lower velocity? Does anyone know? Verlander routinely starts games in the low 90s and then reaches back for big velocity when he needs it. I’ve watched a lot of Hanson’s starts but I guess I haven’t really been paying attention to the velocity.

Loosing Managar = Loosing Record

February 27th, 2012
7:55 am

I here on the radio this moring that hansen will miss anoter day. What kind of acident was this? At fist we were told it as no big deal but now he miss another day? Braves need 2 come klean with us. This was a bad wreck by a very drunk person. Why else woukd it take so long to play?

Larry

February 27th, 2012
7:55 am

Isn’t she so pretty with her hair blowing in the wind as she runs?

Power pitchers look where their hair like Kimbrel unless they pitch for San Francisco!

Larry

February 27th, 2012
7:56 am

Damn keybpard!

Let’s try this again…

Power pitchers wear their hair like Kimbrel…

Larry

February 27th, 2012
7:58 am

KEYBOARD!

I punish myself by not calling anyone else a “goober” today…I’m the goober!

Headed to the coffee pot…

Rusty

February 27th, 2012
8:11 am

I have always watched his velocity closely just because I heard he threw 96-97 when he was in the minors and then when he came up he never threw as hard as advertised. I can’t remember the last time I saw him hit 95 and last year when he seemed to ‘reach back’ he generally only hit 93. Heck, Hudson can reach back and throw 93 and he is no where close to trying to be a ‘power pitcher’.

bvilebaron

February 27th, 2012
9:11 am

Larry:

Do you really believe this garbage you are posting about Hanson?

Rick

February 27th, 2012
9:20 am

“I here on the radio this moring that hansen will miss anoter day. What kind of acident was this? At fist we were told it as no big deal but now he miss another day? Braves need 2 come klean with us. This was a bad wreck by a very drunk person. Why else woukd it take so long to play?”

There are stories explaining what the accident was. He suffered a minor concussion which needs to be taken seriously. No one ever said it was “no big deal,” just something that is important to be monitored and needs to be taken seriously. You really think he was drunk heading to spring training at 8am? It’s taken so long because he had a minor concussion and they are playing it safe with bringing him back in, that’s all.

A Father

February 27th, 2012
9:21 am

Someone needs to come clean with what really occured with T Hanson? J Schultz knows but still refuses to answer the question:

Will T Hanson have to pass a drug test before he can return to practice?

2012 Preseason Fulmer Cup Champs

February 27th, 2012
9:49 am

If Hanson and Jurjens could stay healthy the Braves would be in much better shape. Then again, it won’t happen.