PHILADELPHIA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has not determined what he will do if Tommy Hanson makes his anticipated return from the disabled list next week. But Gonzalez has not ruled out the possibility of utilizing a six-man starting rotation during the final two weeks of August.
If the Braves were to utilize a six-man rotation for a couple of weeks, they would spend this stretch playing a man short either in their bullpen or on their bench. But with the makeup of his rotation and the fact that his club is scheduled to play 20 consecutive days beginning Friday, Gonzalez might go this route.
"We can't consider it until we see where Tommy is at, but it makes a lot of sense," Gonzalez said.
Hanson has experienced some relief since the Braves placed him on the disabled list last week with a lower back strain. There is a chance he could complete a bullpen session by the end of this week. But it is still too early for the Braves to confidently say Hanson will be ready when he is eligible for activation on Aug. 15.
Gonzalez believes most of the members of his starting rotation could continue to benefit from an extra day of rest over the next few weeks. Ben Sheets is pitching for the first time in two years, and 37-year-old Tim Hudson has been burdened by a sore left ankle at times this season. Mike Minor is in his first full season at the Major League level, and prior to this month, Kris Medlen had not started on a regular basis since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.
"This time of year, everybody has got something," Gonzalez said.
Once the Braves end the stretch of playing 20 consecutive days on Aug. 29, they likely would not use the six-man rotation for the remainder of the season. Scheduled off-days in September will provide enough opportunities for Gonzalez to keep his starting pitchers fresh.
Medlen proving reliable for Braves in rotation
PHILADELPHIA -- While proving successful against the Marlins and Astros during his first two Major League starts since 2010, Kris Medlen has appeared to be at ease. But since the Braves moved him from the bullpen to the starting rotation last week, the hyperactive pitcher has had trouble biding his time between starts.
"I feel great, but it's that stupid starting-pitchers running stuff," the jovial Medlen said. "It's 30 minutes continuous. So I just did 20 minutes of poles and then 10 minutes of sprints. It's more boring than anything."
During his days as a reliever, Medlen would do something on a daily basis to maintain the conditioning level he built during Spring Training. Instead of attempting to build his endurance by running for 30 straight minutes, he might stretch his legs with some light jogging in the outfield grass.
"The running is the worst," Medlen said when asked about being a starting pitcher again for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2010.
Since battling nerves in the first two starts of his career in 2009, Medlen has been as reliable as any member of Atlanta's rotation. He has gone 7-0 with a 3.62 ERA in his past 18 starts, and the Braves have won 16 of those games.
In fact, the Braves have won each of the past 13 starts he has made dating back to May 29, 2010.
Medlen was moved into the Braves' rotation last week when they were unsure whether they would add a starting pitcher before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Even with the acquisition of Paul Maholm, he stayed in the rotation to fill the void created when Tommy Hanson was placed on the disabled list.
"Once I'm given the ball, I just want to take it and run with it, not physically run around with it," Medlen said. "But you know what I'm saying."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.