Tommy John surgery likely for Hudson
MRI reveals ligament damage, starter could miss a year
ATLANTA -- Displaying that stubborn pride that helped him become of the best pitchers in the Majors, Tim Hudson will spend the next few days awaiting a miracle. At the same time, from a realistic standpoint, he understands that he's likely going to miss most of next season.
"Miracles happen," Hudson said at Turner Field before the start of Thursday's series finale against the Cardinals.
After examining Hudson on Wednesday, Braves physician Dr. Xavier Duralde and noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews both concluded that the Braves pitcher needs to undergo the Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgical procedure that typically requires a full year of rehab.
Hudson was given an opportunity to view an MRI exam that was performed on Monday, and he was shown where there appeared to be both a partial tear and full tear of his ligament.
"The writing is on the wall," Hudson said.
Hudson will attempt to throw some time this weekend, and if he's able to do so without discomfort, he'll hold off on having the surgery. But the likelihood of this happening is very slim. Odds are that Andrews will perform surgery in Birmingham, Ala., some time next week.
"You try to treat the symptoms," Hudson said. "You hate to just decide to do [Tommy John surgery] right off the bat. ... But it's at the point where it would be kind of foolish for me to rehab five months and try to let it heal that way."
Hudson, who is 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) this year, is set to make $13 million in the final year of his contract next year. The contract includes a $12 million option, with a $1 million buyout for the 2010 season.
With this in mind, Hudson wants to give himself every opportunity to pitch as much as possible next year. While his desire is to stay with the Braves, he simply has to get back on the mound just to earn a contract from any Major League team for 2010.
"It's frustrating," Hudson said. "I'm obviously disappointed. It's part of the game, and you can't do anything about it."
Hudson was removed from his July 23 start at Dolphin Stadium after just 68 pitches. He'd completed six scoreless innings against the Marlins. But he exited because of discomfort below his elbow. At the time, he thought he was suffering from a forearm strain caused by the fact that he'd thrown more split-finger fastballs than usual.
Over the next couple of months, Hudson will have the opportunity to talk to many of his teammates who have come back from Tommy John surgery in the past. Among this group of players are John Smoltz, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan and, of course, Mike Hampton, who missed both the 2006 and '07 seasons while recovering from separate surgical procedures on his left elbow.
"Hampton probably has every answer that I can dream of having," Hudson said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.