Tommy Hanson has fun in abbreviated spring debut

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Pitching with a new delivery and a damaged shoulder that didn’t require surgery, Tommy Hanson gave up three runs — two earned — in one-plus innings Sunday against the Blue Jays in his spring debut.

Hanson turned in a one-two-three first, but he didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced in the second before a rain delay halted his outing. Some of that was the defense’s fault, as Freddie Freeman committed an error behind him. Some of it was his fault, like when he gave up a two-run homer to one of baseball’s worst hitters in Jeff Mathis.

“The first inning was a lot more fun than the second,” Hanson told MLB.com. “I was getting balls that were soaked and wet and the mound was drenched. But it was still fun. When I was out there, I was just laughing about it because I was glad to be back out there on the mound. It was fun to compete again. It was one of those conditions where I didn’t really care what happened because it didn’t matter. It was almost like I was a little kid playing in the rain again.”

Hanson missed the final two months of last season and was diagnosed with a minor tear in his rotator cuff. The new delivery he’s working with this spring was designed to make him quicker to the plate, but it’s also supposed to be easier on his shoulder.

“I felt great,” Hanson said. “Obviously, my command was a little bit off, but my body felt really good. I made some good pitches at times.”

Hanson is expected to open the season as the Braves’ No. 2 starter.

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
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Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.

The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.

While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.

Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.

It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.