WASHINGTON -- With a little less than half of the season left, Tommy Hanson has already surrendered a career-high 19 home runs. But the Braves right-hander does not seem much more concerned about his command than the frequency with which his pitches are getting hit over outfield walls.
"I think a lot of them I have been trying to be aggressive," Hanson said. "When nobody is on base, I want you to put it in play. That has happened a lot. I'm just trying to be a lot more aggressive and not walk guys. But as soon as guys get on, I start to nitpick and I just need to stay aggressive."
Thirteen of the home runs Hanson has surrendered this season have been solo shots. But while allowing eight runs in just four innings on Friday night against the Nationals, he was damaged by two-out, three-run home runs hit by Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.
"I think I pitched better than the results showed, but you can't look at that," Hanson said. "It is what it is. I gave up eight runs in four innings. That is not very good. I need to do a better job. If I give up solo home runs, I'm fine with that. It's three-run home runs that kill you."
While allowing at least six earned runs in both of his starts since the All-Star break, Hanson is following the same path he traveled last year before he was shut down on Aug. 6 with right shoulder discomfort.
Hanson entered last year's All-Star break with a 2.44 ERA, then allowed at least five runs in three of the five starts that followed. But his shoulder has not been a problem this year.
"Nothing is bothering me," Hanson said. "I feel great. I just think there has been a problem with my command. The All-Star break got me out of whack. I'll get back in a groove."
Venters returns, while Diaz heads to DL
WASHINGTON -- While Matt Diaz is hoping to avoid season-ending surgery on his right thumb, Jonny Venters has returned to the Majors with the hope that he will finish this season much stronger than he started it.
With the need to have some bullpen arms available for Saturday's doubleheader, the Braves activated Venters from the disabled list a few days earlier than expected. The veteran reliever took the roster spot opened when Diaz was placed on the disabled list with a thumb ailment that is very similar to the one that sidelined him for two months in 2010.
Because they had thrown each of the three previous days, closer Craig Kimbrel and top setup man Eric O'Flaherty were only going to be used if absolutely necessary on Saturday. Thus, the Braves made the decision to have Venters skip his last scheduled rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. He had been on the disabled list since July 5 with a left elbow impingement.
Diaz has been dealing with an open wound at the bottom of his right hand. An MRI performed on Monday showed two foreign bodies. The veteran outfielder is currently taking a heavy dose of antibiotics, with the hope that he will avoid an infection that would force him to undergo surgery.
"Two years ago, it was busting open on a daily basis," Diaz said. "This time, it has only busted open twice in the past two weeks. What I told [manager Fredi Gonzalez] yesterday was that what I've been giving you for the past month is what I've got, and I'm happy to give it to you for the rest of the year, but I'm not helping anybody."
When Diaz missed the final three games of the 2009 season with a similar ailment, doctors removed particles from his thumb that were consistent with makeup of palm needles. He believes this might have been a result getting stuck with a palm needle while trimming a tree at his house after the 2006 season.
After missing two months during the 2010 season, Diaz had not experienced any problems until getting jammed with a pitch during the June 10 loss to the Blue Jays. He dealt with the discomfort over the following weeks. But his thumb worsened after he was jammed with a John Santana pitch on Sunday and a Madison Bumgarner pitch on Thursday.
When Diaz was unable to hold a bat late Friday afternoon, he informed Gonzalez his condition was not improving.
"It's been bothering me for a while and I've tried to play through it," Diaz said. "But I've not been effective doing it."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.