LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tim Hudson returned to Braves camp on Wednesday ready to begin his normal preseason preparations. The veteran pitcher received a clean bill of health after going to Atlanta on Tuesday to visit noted back surgeon Dr. Steven Wray.
"I'm ready to go," Hudson said. "The back is not a concern to me. I've just got to start getting my arm, legs and everything else ready to go."
Hudson completed a normal bullpen session on Wednesday. This marked the first time the 36-year-old veteran threw off the mound since undergoing a Nov. 30 surgical procedure that fused his L5 and S1 vertebrae. Tuesday's visit showed that the bone-producing proteins inserted via a sponge during the surgery had formed a solid structure between the vertebrae.
Hudson will continue to throw bullpen sessions over the next couple weeks and then begin throwing live batting practice. There is an outside chance he could be ready to pitch in a game before the end of the exhibition season. If this proves true, he could be ready to join the Atlanta rotation in late April.
But Hudson wants to see how his body reacts over the next couple of weeks before placing a definitive timetable on his return.
In extended outings, Braves duo shows fatigue
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Greg Maddux often talked about the challenge a pitcher faces every time they add an additional inning to their scheduled starts during Spring Training. Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado seemed to gain some understanding of this on Wednesday night as they both struggled in their fourth inning of work in a 6-5 win over the Nationals.
Teheran held the Nationals scoreless before allowing a pair of home runs in a three-run fourth inning. These were the first home runs he had surrendered since allowing four in his March 4 start against the Tigers. The highly-regarded pitching prospect said this was the best of the three appearances he has made during the exhibition season.
Delgado entered in the fifth inning and limited the Nationals to just one hit through his first three innings. But his impressive effort was blemished when he allowed successive singles and a ground-rule double with two outs in the eighth inning. To his credit, the 22-year-old pitcher escaped without further damage.
"I thought Delgado did a terrific job of mixing up the pitches, and Julio did the same thing," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "They're both coming on. They really are. It's a good competition."
Since both struggled during a March 4 game against the Tigers, Delgado and Teheran have made their battle for the final spot in the starting rotation interesting. Now that both are stretched out to pitch five innings, one will likely start against the Cardinals on Monday, while the other pitches in a Minor League game.
Prado back to being aggressive at plate
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Martin Prado knew that he needed to regain the aggressive approach he lost as he battled through injuries and change last year. The Braves left fielder believes his recent results at the plate are an indication that he has regained the assertiveness he possessed during his 2010 All-Star season.
"I feel when you lose your confidence, you lose your aggressiveness," Prado said. "When you are not aggressive enough, you are not mentally ready to attack the baseball. Right now, I'm just not thinking. If I see a good pitch to hit, I'm swinging."
Prado has batted .407 (11-for-27) with two doubles through his first nine games of the exhibition season. He has eight hits in his previous 14 at-bats entering Thursday's game against the Phillies.
"Sometimes, I feel like I'm not hitting with enough power," Prado said. "But my swing is getting longer and more comfortable. I'm trying to hit the ball in the gap and the other way. We'll see what happens."
Braves' first round of cuts sends five to Minors
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Outfielders Stefan Gartrell and Todd Cunningham were among the five players cut from Braves big league camp before Wednesday night's game against the Nationals.
Catcher Matt Kennelly and right-handed pitchers Erik Cordier and Jason Rice were also affected by the club's first round of cuts. Right-hander Zeke Spruill was sent back to Minor League camp earlier this week.
Cordier was the only member of the 40-man roster sent out of big league camp; he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. As non-roster invitees, each of the other players were simply reassigned to Minor League camp.
After hitting 25 homers for Triple-A Gwinnett last year, Gartrell came to his first big league camp hoping to make an impression. But the 28-year-old outfielder was sent back to the Minor League side after recording one hit and striking out three times in eight at-bats.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.