PHILADELPHIA -- Tommy Hanson said Monday that he hopes to return to the Braves rotation in time to make one or two starts before the regular season ends. Jair Jurrjens said the same thing.
They'd better, if they hope to pitch in October.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Hanson and Jurrjens will only be considered for the playoff rotation if they first show they're ready by making a regular-season start.
"If they don't pitch in the regular season, they can't pitch in the playoffs, at least not in the first round," Wren said, before the Braves' game against the Phillies.
Hanson and Jurrjens combined for 22 wins in the first half, but have just one win each since the All-Star break. Hanson hasn't pitched since Aug. 6 because of a sore right shoulder, while Jurrjens has a bone bruise on his right knee and has been out since Aug. 30.
Jurrjens visited a knee specialist over the weekend, and was told not to throw off a mound for the next two weeks. The Braves continue to say that Jurrjens has only a knee problem, even as scouts following the team see his diminished velocity (only 86 mph in a recent start) and suspect shoulder trouble.
Hanson threw from 90 feet on Monday, and said afterwards that he considered it significant progress.
"I think I have more peace of mind now," Hanson said.
The Braves seem more hopeful about Hanson than about Jurrjens, but they really can't be sure about either one.
Rookies Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor have pitched well enough that the Braves wouldn't necessarily be devastated if Hanson and Jurrjens don’t return to a playoff rotation that will be headed by Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe. But obviously, a healthy Hanson or a healthy Jurrjens -- or having both healthy -- would make the Braves a more formidable playoff team.