Hudson impresses in spring debut
Braves righty tosses two scoreless innings against Mets
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tim Hudson's Grapefruit League season debut went about as well as he could have wanted. Or it could be said, that his brief two-inning stint against the Mets at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Wednesday afternoon actually went better than he desired. The 34-year-old right-hander needed just 15 pitches to record the six outs that he was scheduled to make.
"It would be awesome if it was July and you have innings like that," Hudson said. "But down here, you want to get some work in and you want to get into some innings. I just wasn't able to get into anything like that.
"You don't want to get your brains beat in in Spring Training. But you want to get into some jams. The first jam you get in, you don't want it to be the first game of the season."
Facing a Mets lineup that was absent Jose Reyes, David Wright, Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur, Hudson threw 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes and surrendered just one hit -- Fernando Martinez's one-out second-inning single. After Martinez put a curveball in play, the Braves right-hander ended his day by getting Rod Barajas to ground into a double play.
When his brief outing was complete, Hudson opted to go to the bullpen for a 20-pitch mound session that allowed him to throw many of the offspeed pitches that he never found time to throw to the Mets.
"Going two innings is a good way to get your feet wet," said Hudson, who will be scheduled to work three innings when he faces the Tigers in Lakeland on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET. "But you don't really get too much out of it unless you have two long innings."
Braves manager Bobby Cox said that there was never any thought about sending Hudson back to the mound for an additional inning.
"He threw so many strikes, he didn't have a chance to throw his offspeed stuff," Cox said. "That's what he was doing in the 'pen. I liked what I saw a lot."
While gaining confidence that he's further removed from the Tommy John surgery on his right elbow that sidelined him until he made seven September starts last year, Hudson was not exactly pleased with the control he had in the first inning, which began with Jason Heyward running down a pair of fly balls.
Proving that he can impress with more than just his powerful bat, Heyward raced into the right-center-field gap to snare Angel Pagan's fly ball and then got a good jump that allowed him to race toward the infield and easily grab Alex Cora's soft fly.
"Once I get in there to get 40, 50 or 60 pitches, I'll be able to start getting into some more things," Hudson said. "The first couple hitters of the first inning, I was like ... I'm supposed to be a sinkerballer, a ground-ball pitcher.
"I wanted to check [Heyward's] legs out. I wanted our front office to see how he could run balls down and see if he could handle gap-to-gap."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.