Craig Hansen is another talented arm on our roster. However, just his name drums up those awful summer memories of the the three-way (love that word) deal that broke the hearts of Pirates fans. Our beloved Jason Bay was sent to Boston for Hansen and Brandon Moss.
Like so many of the other young guns on the team, Hansen has a story. He suffered from sleep apnea and many felt it impacted him on the field. He was unable to focus and felt fatigue during his career. He would doze off in meetings and after being diagnosed at a sleep study clinic was quoted as saying, ”I have 56 occurrences in an hour. That’s 56 minutes where I am not sleeping comfortably.”
None of that explains how he was a such an impact at St Johns that he was the 26th player taken in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft by the Sox. He walked 16 batters and struck out 59 in 2004 and also closed out their NCAA victory over UNLV. He was All American. He did all this while attending college where I am certain sleep was not a priority.
His big league career with the Pirates didnt start as we would have liked. All of us were dying to see him after hearing so much about the talent we received for Bay. The expectations were not met. Well not immediately.
He was sent to Indy after a disasterous outing against the Cubs on Aug 26 when he walked three consecutive batters. “I think he was trying to make a big impression early,” said John Russell.
The return from Indy with the September callups showed us a different pitcher. After he struggled against the Reds his next five appearances showed us what we were looking for in the 6’6″ right hander. He was dominant. More precise. And as September wrapped up he was relaxed on the mound.
He did not surrender a run in five appearances from September 7 through September 14. Then in his last outing on September 18, he struggled again with three walks against the Dodgers.
The bad memories that we feel every time we see Bay crush another home run at Fenway can be eased a bit this year. Its all up to a well rested Hansen. One guy that wont be sleeping well is GM Neil Huntington. Hansen has no minor league options left, forcing the Pirates to have him clear waivers before they could send him to AAA. Losing one of the key players we received for Bay will not sell tickets at PNC. Hansen would never clear waivers. Sleep well Bucco fans, because Hansen will have a solid spring and you will see him in Pittsburgh with the Club.