Hanrahan Back To 100 Percent

After spending over a month on the DL with a hamstring injury, Joel Hanrahan returned to the Clippers' starting rotation on May 28.  Now with three starts under his belt since returning, Hanrahan is beginning to display the same form that he showed during the first few weeks of the season.

Hanrahan started off the year strong by going 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his first four starts and was one of the bright spots on a Clippers team that struggled throughout April. Unfortunately for Columbus and Hanrahan, he pulled his hamstring in a game against Durham on April 23 and was forced back to square one.

"I kind of tweaked it against Durham at our place and I didn't think it was that bad," Hanrahan told CapitolDugout.com on Saturday. "I went out the next game in Durham and I kind of did the same thing again, but a little more. I tweaked it a little bit more, and I didn't feel too spectacular."

While on the DL, Hanrahan spent time at the Nationals' extended spring training. Although he tried to work through the rehab process by pitching in a few games in Florida, Hanrahan said that with hamstring injuries, there is only one thing that will truly help the injury heal.

"It's just time, time, and time," Hanrahan said. "There is only so much you can do treatment-wise. The rehab process was long, and you just kind of had to wait it out. It got a little frustrating being away so long, but I went down to Florida and got put in some games there to try to get things back."

The Iowa native has dealt with hamstring injuries in the past, but never to the extent which he faced this season. Nevertheless, his patience with the injury is now paying off.

"I didn't think [rehab] would be that long because I kind of had the same thing last year," Hanrahan said. "Last year, it only took me about a week. So obviously I didn't hurt it as bad last year as I did this time. It was just one of those things that I wanted to make sure I got it all the way better so it wouldn't come up again."

The most impressive of his three starts since returning to Columbus came on Friday night against Norfolk. Hanrahan went six innings, gave up four hits and one run while fanning six. He also received plenty of run support from the Clippers' lineup. Columbus scored 11 runs—the same amount of runs they gave Hanrahan in his previous six starts. Pitching coach Steve McCatty commented on Hanrahan's admirable performance.

"I thought he threw the ball much better last night," McCatty said. "The first couple starts he was still a little rusty—his timing was off. Even though he threw some pitches in extended, it's not quite the same as being out there in the game. His off-speed got much better after the third inning. He started to get a little tired, but I thought he threw the ball well."

Hanrahan also talked about how consistency with his off-speed pitchers was the hardest element to regain during his rehabilitation process.

"That's the one thing that got away from me," Hanrahan said. "Anytime you miss time, it's going to take a little longer to get back a feel for your off-speed stuff. I felt like before I got hurt, I had my off-speed stuff where I needed to be. Now, I am just still trying to find that."

Perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment he has had this season is his success against left-handed batters. Thus far this season, the right-hander has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .135 batting average. He said that the changeup that he added to his repertoire in the off-season and his sinkerball may be the keys to his success. Despite his success, Hanrahan said that he still has plenty of room for improvement, especially considering the injury.

"I'm still not where I need to be yet," Hanrahan said. "It took me a couple games to get where I'm at now. I still have some time to go. Obviously, it's not going to be like it was before."

Coach McCatty told CapitolDugout.com that Hanrahan was nearly ready for the big leagues before the injury, but now he may have to work on a few things on the mound. However, McCatty thinks one thing is certain in Hanrahan's near future.

"He'll definitely pitch in the big leagues at some point this year," McCatty said. "If he gets the consistency there with the off-speed a little earlier, a little bit better command with his strikes, then yeah he can pitch there. He was certainly ready to pitch at the big leagues. [The injury] probably came at a bad time for him, just because of the fact that he was doing so well. But things happen, and you have to come back."

Hanrahan certainly hopes that McCatty is right because it would be Joel's first stop in the majors. But right now, Hanrahan is merely concerned with bringing his best stuff to the mound night in and night out. He is back to his normal pitch count and he said that he is pitching at 100 percent once again.

"The body feels good," Hanrahan said. "I think we're getting there."

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