ATLANTA -- Tommy Hanson entered this season with the hope of immediately returning to normalcy. As the past couple of weeks have progressed, the Braves pitcher has come to realize he needed some time to regain his arm strength.
"My arm has been really tight," Hanson said. "[During Sunday's start], it felt like it was a lot looser. I was getting back and throwing more fluid."
Hanson's right shoulder has not been a problem since it proved too painful for him to pitch during the final five weeks of the 2011 season. But since being sidetracked by a concussion during the first week of Spring Training, he has found himself attempting to regain the comfort he had with his delivery and release before the shoulder became a problem.
Some of that comfort seemed to be present Sunday, as Hanson limited the Cardinals to one run over five innings of the Braves' 7-4 win, and he generated more life on his fastball than he had in his previous two starts. According to Pitch F/X, the average velocity of his fastball was 88.88 mph, and he maxed out at 92.7 mph.
There is still a large gap between Hanson's current velocity and the 92.7 mph mark he averaged in 2010, per fangraphs.com. But the 25-year-old pitcher has seen some improvement since his fastball averaged 88.87 mph during a May 2 start against the Phillies.
"I feel like it was coming out a little better, too," Hanson said after Sunday's start. "My fastball felt better. I'm going to stick with my normal routine and try to build some arm strength. Hopefully with the long toss and as the season progresses, it will come back."
Freeman exits game with blurred vision
ATLANTA -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left Monday's 3-1 loss to the Reds after the seventh inning with blurred vision in his right eye. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Freeman was to meet with the team's eye doctor after the game.
"He went through a couple of pairs of contacts and couldn't get it fixed," said Gonzalez, who didn't expect to hear the diagnosis of Freeman's condition until possibly Tuesday.
Gonzalez said Monday was the first time Freeman had dealt with the problem.
Freeman went 0-for-3 Monday and is hitting .277 with six home runs this season.
Eric Hinske, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, replaced Freeman.
Braves pleased with Pastornicky's performance
ATLANTA -- As Tyler Pastornicky critiqued his recent work, he said he would like to prove more consistent over the next few weeks and months. But from an offensive perspective, the Braves have to be pleased with all that he has provided during his first six weeks as a starting shortstop at the Major League level.
"He gives you good at-bats," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He makes adjustments, and he's a grinder. We forget that he is facing everybody for the first time."
After admittedly putting too much pressure on himself during the first two weeks of his big league career, Pastornicky was left out of the lineup for three consecutive games April 21-23. Unfazed, the 22-year-old shortstop produced a career-best three-hit performance when he returned to the lineup on April 24.
In the 18 games Pastornicky has played since getting those three days to rest his mind, he has hit .333 with a .369 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage. But the young shortstop realizes much of the damage compiled within this small sample size has come courtesy of a pair of three-hit games.
"I'm still working on the consistency factor, but I definitely feel aggressive and confident," Pastornicky said. "Having the team playing great right now helps. When you see everyone having good at-bats, you don't want to be the one who is not swinging the bat well."
Chipper's knee responding well to air travel
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones no longer has to worry about how air travel will affect his surgically repaired left knee. After flying back from St. Louis on Sunday night, the Braves third baseman was in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Reds.
The Braves have played three games on days following a flight this month, and Jones has been in the starting lineup on each occasion. In fact, the 40-year-old third baseman has started six of the team's past seven games.
"We're past that point," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We still have to give him a couple days here or there."
The Braves' next flight will be a short jump to Tampa before this weekend's series against the Rays. Jones could rest his knee while serving as the designated hitter during this three-game series. Gonzalez also mentioned possibly using catcher Brian McCann or center fielder Michael Bourn as the designated hitter during Interleague Play.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.