NEW YORK -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not shy away from the opportunity to publicly support his close friend Stan Van Gundy, the Orlando Magic head coach who revealed on Thursday that he had confirmed his star player, Dwight Howard, had asked for him to be fired.
"I think the owner has to step up and sign Stan for a couple years more, unless Howard wants to take a pay cut and be the head coach," Gonzalez said while talking to reporters before Saturday afternoon's game against the Mets at Citi Field.
Gonzalez and Van Gundy have remained in regular contact since developing a close relationship that dates back more than a decade when they lived in the same suburban Miami neighborhood. When they spoke on Friday, Van Gundy changed the topic by referencing the fact the Braves had been shut out in Thursday's Opening Day loss to the Mets.
"I asked him how it's going and then he said, 'You guys need to score some runs,'" Gonzalez said.
When asked about how he had responded, Gonzalez smiled and said, "I told him, 'Pitchers are ahead of the hitters.'"
Gonzalez was dismissed as the Marlins manager a little more than a month after benching Hanley Ramirez for loafing during a game in May 2010. While the incident might have played a part in his dismissal, he was lauded throughout the baseball world for taking control of a matter involving his star player.
"I told [Van Gundy] that I wish there were more owners who were ex-coaches and ex-players like [new Dodgers owner] Magic Johnson," Gonzalez said. "They would understand the dynamics of the coach-player relationship."
Hanson to pitch on regular rest Tuesday
NEW YORK -- Tommy Hanson will be on regular rest when he returns to the mound to make his second start of the season on Tuesday against the Astros. The Braves made the decision after Hanson threw just 83 pitches during Thursday's Opening Day start against the Mets.
"We wanted him to go on his normal day," Gonzalez said. "But we were waiting to hear from him today, because it's different than pitching in Spring Training. You've got the Opening Day jitters and all of that. But he said, 'I'm not even sore.'"
Hanson has not been bothered by the right shoulder discomfort that sidelined him for the final seven weeks of last season. But if he had needed an extra day of rest, the Braves could have brought him back a day later on Wednesday without messing up their starting rotation.
With Hanson now scheduled to start on Tuesday, fifth starter Randall Delgado will make his regular-season debut on Wednesday against the Astros. Delgado threw approximately 32 pitches during what amounted to a live batting-practice session on Friday.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said there is a chance Chipper Jones could be activated from the disabled list as early as Tuesday, even if he is only available to serve as a pinch-hitter. Jones has made great strides since undergoing left knee surgery on March 26. He remains confident he will be activated by Friday's home opener.
The Braves have released a couple thousand standing-room-only tickets for Friday night's game against the Brewers.
Gonzalez said he thought about allowing Kris Medlen to pitch a third inning of relief against the Mets during Thursday's season opener. But the decision to limit him to two innings was influenced by the desire to have the versatile reliever around to pitch in one of the final two games of this weekend's series against the Mets.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.