ATLANTA -- Tommy Hanson entered this season with the hope of immediately returning to normalcy. As the past couple of weeks have progressed, the Braves pitcher has come to realize he needed some time to regain his arm strength.
"My arm has been really tight," Hanson said. "[During Sunday's start], it felt like it was a lot looser. I was getting back and throwing more fluid."
Hanson's right shoulder has not been a problem since it proved too painful for him to pitch during the final five weeks of the 2011 season. But since being sidetracked by a concussion during the first week of Spring Training, he has found himself attempting to regain the comfort he had with his delivery and release before the shoulder became a problem.
Some of that comfort seemed to be present Sunday, as Hanson limited the Cardinals to one run over five innings of the Braves' 7-4 win, and he generated more life on his fastball than he had in his previous two starts. According to Pitch F/X, the average velocity of his fastball was 88.88 mph, and he maxed out at 92.7 mph.
There is still a large gap between Hanson's current velocity and the 92.7 mph mark he averaged in 2010, per fangraphs.com. But the 25-year-old pitcher has seen some improvement since his fastball averaged 88.87 mph during a May 2 start against the Phillies.
"I feel like it was coming out a little better, too," Hanson said after Sunday's start. "My fastball felt better. I'm going to stick with my normal routine and try to build some arm strength. Hopefully with the long toss and as the season progresses, it will come back."