ATLANTA -- As the holiday season neared, Tommy Hanson did not seem overly concerned about his right shoulder. Since starting his throwing program in early January, the Braves pitcher has gained more reason to believe he will not have any limitations when Spring Training begins.
"It feels better now than it did [in December]," Hanson said. "I'm definitely a lot more optimistic now than I was even last month."
Hanson has remained encouraged while throwing off the mound multiple times over the past month. While visiting Turner Field on Thursday, he did not seem to have any problems playing long toss.
"I'm on a normal schedule right now and I feel good," Hanson said. "I highly doubt that will change."
Hanson missed almost all of the final two months of last season because of right shoulder discomfort that gradually worsened over the course of the 2010 and '11 seasons. Dr. James Andrews evaluated him in September and only found normal wear and tear around the shoulder.
Hanson spent a month this offseason working with Braves physical therapist Troy Jones at the club's Spring Training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. While there, he focused on strengthening his back muscles with the hope this will place less strain on his shoulder.
"I think it's going to be a constant thing with my back," Hanson said. "It's not bothering me now. I'll just have to keep doing all my exercises and everything else they've been having me do. It seems to help."
Hanson admits that he entered this offseason feeling somewhat uncertain about his shoulder. But the past couple of weeks have given him the confidence that he could enter this upcoming season feeling better than he has during most of the past two seasons.
"I had no idea what was going to happen or how I was going to feel," Hanson said. "I'm definitely happy that I feel good now and that everything has been going good. I feel like I'm going to be on a normal schedule."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.