ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones understands why he batted second in six of the Braves' past eight games. But the veteran third baseman remains hopeful to return to a run-producing spot in the lineup before this season concludes.
"I understand why [Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez] is doing what he is doing with the lineup right now," Jones said. "He's trying to get the best on-base percentage guys at the top. But once guys who ordinarily hit at the top of the lineup start hitting again ... The bottom line is I'm not a table-setter. I'm not a guy who is going to go up and see six or seven pitches."
Gonzalez's decision to move Jones to the second spot of the lineup for the first time since 1996 was made last week, as Martin Prado continued to struggle to serve as the table-setter the Braves envisioned he would be in the two-hole.
Prado has batted .242 with a .283 on-base percentage since returning after the All-Star break from a one-month absence necessitated by a staph infection. Prado's struggles seemed to increase after the Braves acquired Michael Bourn and put him in the leadoff spot.
With Bourn serving as a constant stolen-base threat, Prado seemed to be tentative to swing at some pitches early in the count when Bourn was on first base.
"Hopefully when Prado gets going again, he's back there, because he's ultimately the prototypical No. 2 hitter," Jones said.
Hanson takes another positive step forward
ATLANTA -- Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson threw another side session Wednesday morning at Turner Field, and he once again came away with positive results.
Hanson, who has been on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, will wait to see what kind of soreness his shoulder encounters on Thursday before deciding what his next move will be. He could throw another side session or head to Florida to make a rehab appearance in an instructional league game.
"My shoulder feels good," Hanson said. "Everything feels good. I feel really strong. I was probably throwing about 90 percent, and then toward the end, I started acting like I was facing a hitter [by] throwing hard. It felt really good."
Hanson threw 20 pitches to start the session and then took a short break before throwing 24 more. He felt his command was much better in the second part when he took on the mindset of facing batters.
"It was another good bullpen [session]," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow I feel good and have normal soreness, which I don't think is going to be a problem."
Hanson still believes there is a chance that he could make at least one regular-season start before the postseason is scheduled to begin. The odds of that happening will improve should his shoulder respond favorably on Thursday like he expects it to.
"I don't think I'm going to take a big step back," he said. "I feel pretty good about my shoulder. I don't think there's going to be an issue."
Medlen could return by season's end
ATLANTA -- When the Braves decided to shut down pitcher Kris Medlen for six weeks earlier this summer, it didn't appear as though the right-hander would be able to make it back in time to pitch this season.
But Medlen -- who underwent Tommy John surgery last August -- has shown enough improvement in recent days that the Braves are thinking about giving him a chance to pitch in the season's final weeks after all.
"I'm super excited," Medlen said. "[General manager] Frank [Wren] sat right next to me and told me what the plan is and I said, '[Heck] yeah, let's do this.'"
Medlen has been throwing off the mound for the past 10 days and threw two sets of 25 pitches Wednesday morning at Turner Field, which was his fifth bullpen session. The next step in the rehab process will come on Saturday, when the righty will throw live batting practice for the first time.
"Every 'pen, it's hurting less and there's no pain and all that," Medlen said. "That's the most important part."
The original intent was for the pitcher to throw three bullpen sessions before traveling to Florida to pitch in the instructional league. Now the Braves will wait until after Saturday to decide what the next step in the process will be.
"At least give it a shot and see what happens," Medlen said. "Just accelerate the process, and if I have another setback or it's not feeling right, then just back off and stick to the normal plan, which was to send me down to [instructional] and get some innings there."