NEW YORK -- Tommy Hanson was thrilled after completing a bullpen session on Friday afternoon. But the Braves pitcher was not exactly pleased on Saturday when he learned he will need to make one rehab start before rejoining Atlanta's rotation toward the end of next week.
Hanson will attempt to complete four to five innings while throwing approximately 80 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday afternoon. This would put him in line to start against the Dodgers on Friday, which is just two days after he becomes eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
Hanson has not recently experienced the lower back discomfort that led the Braves to place him on the disabled list on July 31. His hope was to be activated without making a rehab appearance. But the team determined it would be best for him to slowly make his way back with this one rehab start.
"He wants to get back in there and I don't blame him," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's why he was grumpy."
After being told about the rehab assignment, Hanson told reporters, "I'm not in a good mood." But a short time earlier, he was excited about how he had thrown during Friday's bullpen session.
"It might have been my best one of the year," Hanson said. "I was actually hitting spots. I surprised myself."
Hanson has posted a 7.43 ERA and allowed opponents to compile a .453 on-base percentage in the four starts he has made since the All-Star break.
When Hanson rejoins the rotation, the Braves will have to determine whether to bump one of their starters or possibly go with a six-man rotation until they complete a stretch of playing 20 straight 20 days on Aug. 29.
While Gonzalez has not completely nixed the possibility of using the six-man rotation, it does not sound likely. If the Braves stick with a five-man rotation, Kris Medlen would likely return to the bullpen.
"It's not as easy as people think, because you've got to either a position player or a bullpen guy short," Gonzalez said. "As soon as you do that, it never fails."