PHILADELPHIA -- Encouraged by the way his right shoulder reacted after his latest round of long toss on Wednesday, Tommy Hanson believes he could be ready to complete a light bullpen session this weekend.
"I know the [Braves] want to play it a little bit on the safer side, but I don't see a problem, with how I felt today, throwing a side on Friday," Hanson said.
Hanson has made steady strides since gaining some peace of mind last week, when Dr. James Andrews told him that the discomfort in his right shoulder is a product of normal wear and tear.
The 25-year-old right-hander's confidence was strengthened on Monday, when he completed a pain-free round of long toss.
On Wednesday, Hanson went through his delivery and threw each of his pitches on flat ground. The next test will be how his shoulder reacts while throwing off the mound.
"I think the bullpen day is going to be big," he said. "I don't know. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think I'm ready to get off the mound to throw all my pitches again and feel the slope of the mound."
After spending two weeks on the disabled list in June, Hanson made three strong starts while continuing to pitch with some tightness in the shoulder. During his current DL stint, it became apparent that he needed more than two weeks of rest.
Hanson is well aware that time is running out for him to get ready in time for the postseason, but he understands the importance of making sure his shoulder is healthy and strong enough to resume pitching in games.
"I just don't want to force anything," he said.
Braves have a smart thief in Bourn
PHILADELPHIA -- Since his arrival from Houston on Aug. 1, Michael Bourn has given the Braves something they have almost never had in their history -- a legitimate threat on the basepaths.
In Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the Phillies, Bourn stole his 50th base of the season. Though that total includes his four months with the Astros, it's still an achievement that only Hap Myers (57 in 1913) and Otis Nixon (57 in 1991) have accomplished in a Braves uniform since 1900.
"Michael Bourn is up there, really up there [with the best basestealers in the game]," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Because he doesn't just steal bases. You have guys that run just to get the numbers -- you know what I mean. He's very smart. He studies the other pitchers, he monitors the timing -- everybody does -- but he's really focused on when he can go. If he doesn't like the time, he's not going to go."
In 2007, when Bourn was with the Phillies, he benefited from working with Philadelphia's first-base coach at the time, Davey Lopes. Lopes has been credited with much of the Phillies' success on the basepaths from 2007 through 2010, when the club led the league in stolen-base percentage.
"He's got a very good idea of when to steal a bag," Gonzalez said. "I'm sure that foundation Davey developed for him when he was young carries over to today. I've never spoken to him about that, but I know Davey's reputation when it comes to teaching basestealing, and he's taken that over to the Dodgers this year. I'm sure that's part of the foundation."
Bourn's success rate this year is 81 percent.
Braves being cautious with Freeman
PHILADELPHIA -- For the second time this week, Freddie Freeman was given the night off, but this time it had more to do with the fact that the rookie played in Tuesday night's game, which ended just past midnight ET, than the left hip flexor he's been battling.
"We got out of here around 2:15 or 2:20 [in the morning]," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There were a couple of plays last night that concerned me. One was a stretch, and then the last ground ball up the middle in his last at-bat, he just didn't run real well.
"He says he's fine. I believe him, and I trust him, but you also have to use your better judgment."
Freeman's injury is not going to get better with just two or three days of rest. Gonzalez knows that it will take until December for the hip to be 100 percent. Then again, at this point in the season, the Braves don't have anyone who is 100 percent.
One thing is clear: Freeman is an important part of any success the Braves are going to have once, as expected, they reach the playoffs. Freeman leads all National League rookies with a .291 average, 144 hits, 64 RBIs and 29 doubles. He's second in home runs, with 18, and has 39 multihit games.
Entering Wednesday's game, the Braves trail the Phillies by 9 1/2 games in the National League East after dropping the first two games of the series, so Gonzalez was afforded the chance to pick and choose days to rest Freeman.
The concern isn't Freeman's hitting, as he still appears to be fluid, but when he runs or stretches in the field for a ball. Either way, he's only going to get a day off here and there.
"Every time he isn't in the lineup, he's in my office," Gonzalez said. "I prefer that. He wants to play, and that's one of the things I like about him. We just have to use our judgment [when it comes to giving him a rest]."
Manager Fredi Gonzalez is well aware of several instant-replay calls -- including one on Sunday in Florida that worked against the Phillies -- that have created a stir across Major League Baseball. He even believes that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a point about the ruling, which may or may not have cost the Phillies the game.
"When it first came out, I was not in favor of instant replay," Gonzalez said. "But now I'm in favor. The sticking point is, where do you put baserunners if you are going to reverse a call? I think it needs to be black and white, and not a gray area. I'm in favor of getting it right."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.