LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tommy Hanson proved much sharper than he had expected after he was cleared to throw his first bullpen session since suffering a Grade 1 concussion in a one-car accident on Feb. 20.
Reacquainting himself with the altered delivery he developed in January, Hanson experienced no problems during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday.
"I think I threw a little better than I had expected," Hanson said. "I've had some time to think about some mechanical stuff. I was surprised by how well I threw."
Hanson could be cleared to begin throwing live batting practice as soon as Friday. But he will have to first pass one more part of the concussion impact test, which tests reaction and memory skills.
"Hopefully, he passes that," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Or hopefully, he keeps failing it and the doctors understand this is just a normal thing."
Hanson has not experienced any dizziness or headaches for more than a week. His absence over the past week has likely increased the odds of Jair Jurrjens being the Opening Day starter.
But the Braves still believe Hanson will be ready to make his first start of the season.
Day after: Freeman feeling better about knee
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- An optimistic Freddie Freeman was moving around the Braves' clubhouse a little better Wednesday morning and expressing little concern about his right knee injury.
"It's a little bit better today," Freeman said. "Everything is structurally sound in there."
Freeman created a scare Tuesday morning when he felt his right kneecap briefly pop out of place as he picked a throw at first base. His injury has been diagnosed as a subluxation of the right patella, the same exact injury that he suffered while playing for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2010.
The Braves kept Freeman out of Gwinnett's lineup for a week when he previously suffered this injury, and then limited him to a designated hitter role over the next five days. If the same recovery schedule is followed, the 22-year-old first baseman will miss most of the first two weeks of the exhibition season.
"If this was March 25, then you'd be worried, but we're still in February," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Freeman created a few laughs when he seemed serious in saying he would attempt to talk his way back into the lineup as early as Saturday. Some of his optimism is based on the fact that he is already limping around without assistance. He was on crutches for three days the last time he suffered this injury.
"I've got a brace now that I'll probably have to wear for the rest of my career," Freeman said. "This is twice in a year and a half, and I can't have this happen again. I'm just thankful this happened in the first few days and not going into the last week of Spring Training."
Minor to get Braves' first spring start
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez announced Mike Minor will start Saturday afternoon's Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Gonzalez said he will wait at least another day before revealing when his other potential starting pitchers are targeted to make their first appearance during the Grapefruit League season. He may be waiting to gain a better sense of where Tommy Hanson could fall in place once the right-hander is cleared to make his first start.
Minor will be making his spring debut amid the excitement of Prince Fielder's debut in a Tigers uniform. Fielder, who lives in Orlando, and Miguel Cabrera are both expected to make the short drive from Lakeland to participate in the Grapefruit League season opener for both teams.
Gonzalez will likely announce the remainder of his spring rotation within the next couple of days. With Tim Hudson likely to miss at least the first month of the season, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, Hanson and Minor are expected to begin the season in the starting rotation. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran will likely battle for the fifth and final spot.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.