Fredi holding out hope for Hanson's return

Fredi holding out hope for Hanson's return

Fredi holding out hope for Hanson's return
ATLANTA -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez has not allowed himself to even start thinking about the rotation he might use in the playoffs, but he is certainly keeping tabs on Tommy Hanson, who is holding out hope that he can rebuild his arm strength in time to make a start in the National League Division Series.

The 25-year-old Hanson, who has missed the past six weeks because of an ailing right shoulder, will throw a side session at Turner Field on Saturday, and if all goes well, he will likely travel to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to log some innings in an instructional league game. If he passes that test, he might be cleared to start one of the final regular-season games.

"I don't even want to go that far," Gonzalez said. "I just want to take it one hurdle at a time."

Given that Hanson has not pitched in a game since Aug. 6 and did not begin throwing off a mound until Sunday, the Braves certainly understand that he will not be ready for the start of the postseason, but they are at least creating the possibility that he could make a start in the Division Series.

If Hanson is cleared to start the Sept. 25 series finale against the Nationals, he could pitch in an instructional league game five days later and be on schedule to pitch Game 4 of the NLDS on Oct. 5.

"It will be close, that's all I can tell you," Gonzalez said. "You hate to run a guy out there in a playoff atmosphere with just 65 [pitches] or 75 [pitches] in him. So it will be close."

Hanson may be questionable for the Division Series, but Gonzalez has essentially ruled out the possibility of Jair Jurrjens being ready for the first round of the playoffs. Jurrjens will attempt to throw off a mound wearing a brace on his right knee on Monday.

Jurrjens has spent most of the season's second half dealing with the pain created by a bone bruise in the knee. Because he will be at least a week behind Hanson in the rehab process, his availability for the NL Championship Series is also appears to be questionable.