Braves' Hanson rested, excited about 2010 season

No, wait. We didn't mean to alarm Braves fans. Let's rephrase.

There was a point during Atlanta's unusually wet October-November when Hanson thought about maybe going home to California for a while.

"I was joking that if it rains one more day, I'm out of here," the big right-hander said, recalling a conversation with his Buckhead apartment roommates, pitcher Kris Medlen -- a fellow Southern California native -- and minor-league pitcher Ryne Reynoso.

"I couldn't take it," Hanson said. "Then after it stopped raining, it got cold."

But if the weather wasn't perfect during his first offseason in Atlanta, most everything else was for Hanson, 23. Coming off a splendid rookie year, he's rested and excited about the upcoming season.

Hanson and plenty of other Braves pitchers will take part in a two-week pitching camp that starts Monday at Turner Field, before Braves pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 19. Other position players are due to report Feb. 22.

"I'm definitely looking forward to some baseball," said Hanson, who was third for National League Rookie of the Year after going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts.

"I've had enough time away from it. I'm ready to go. My arm's never felt better. And I feel really good about the team. I think everything that was done [this offseason] is going to help the team out."

Braves starters led the majors with a 3.52 ERA and had the second-most innings (986) behind St. Louis (1,003-2/3).

However, they traded Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees. He led the Braves with a 15-10 record, 238 strikeouts and career-best 2.87 ERA and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Vazquez was a year from free agency, and the Braves had a surplus of starters after signing Tim Hudson to a three-year extension following his late-season return from elbow surgery. They tried first to trade Derek Lowe, but $45 million left on his deal thwarted the attempts.

"It's tough losing Javy," Hanson said. "He helped a lot of us out. I know him and J.J. [Jair Jurrjens] were real close. But with everybody we've got back we're going to be more than fine with our rotation.

"And we're going to be tough in the bullpen, too."

The Braves lost closer Mike Gonzalez to free agency and traded closer Rafael Soriano after he accepted arbitration. They signed veteran closer Billy Wagner and setup man Takashi Saito (who'll be 40 in February) and traded for hard-throwing but still-developing relievers Mike Dunn, a lefty, and Jesse Chavez.

They join incumbent relievers Peter Moylan, Medlen, Manny Acosta and lefty Eric O'Flaherty. Waiting in the wings is veteran signee Scott Proctor, a setup man expected back from elbow surgery in May or June.

The Braves rotation includes Hudson, Jurrjens, Lowe, Hanson and veteran Kenshin Kawakami, in his second season since coming from Japan.

Can they again field one of baseball's best rotations?

"I think so, definitely," Hanson said. "Getting Huddy back, in his second year being healthy -- good things will come from that. And having everyone else back, it should be fun to watch. Hopefully like last year, where every time someone takes the mound it's a good start."

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