Hudson optimistic for May 1 return “at latest”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tim Hudson has his next doctor’s appointment Tuesday, after which the veteran Braves pitcher hopes he’s cleared to start throwing from the mound at full effort.

He’s 3-1/2 months into recovery from Nov. 28 lumbar spine-fusion surgery, and the 36-year-old is upbeat and optimistic about joining the starting rotation by May 1, an unofficial targeted return date.

“I think [May 1] at the latest,” Hudson said. “It’d be hard to say [if he can return earlier] because I’ve got to build up to that. I could be back in April but it might be a four- or five-inning thing. April is my month of spring training games — unless I’m able to pitch sooner here [in camp] than we thought.”

He was scheduled to throw a “light” bullpen on Sunday.

“When I say light, the catcher’s up [instead of squatting],” Hudson said. “It’s just to get used to the slope again. Then we go to the doc on Tuesday, and he should clear me to start throwing full-bore ‘pens. Unless he sees something in my X-rays that he doesn’t like.”

Hudson doesn’t expect that. He said he felt great and the condition of his abdominal area improved significantly in recent weeks. The surgery was done from the front side, the surgeon going through his abdomen to fuse the L5 and S1 vertebrae.

“Hopefully if everything goes good on Tuesday I’ll throw a hard ‘pen Wednesday,” Hudson said. “I don’t know how many days off I’d have after that, but [after that] probably another pen and then mix in a couple of batting practices, and I should be ready for a game.”

The plan is for him to pitch in April minor-league games until he’s ready to rejoin the Braves. He is far and away their most experienced pitcher, along with being a team leader.

Hudson originally hadn’t planned to have surgery at least until after he retired. But he knew it wouldn’t be possible to continue getting epidurals and pitching through pain when his condition worsened after he began his offseason workouts in November.

Now that he’s had the surgery, he feels so much better that he’s confident he can pitch effectively for several more years beyond his current contract.

Hudson is owed $9 million in 2012 in the last season of a three-year, $28 million extension that also has a $9 million option for 2013 with a $1 million buyout.

The Alabama native has more than performed up to his contract, which he signed in November 2009 after returning from ligament-transplant elbow surgery.

Over the past two seasons, Hudson went 33-19 with a 3.02 ERA, .232 opponents’ average in 443-2/3 innings. In that same period, Phillies ace Cliff Lee was 29-17 with a 2.77 ERA and .234 opponents’ average in 445 innings, and Giants star Tim Lincecum was 29-24 with a 3.08 ERA, .232 opponents’ average in 429-1/3 innings.

46 comments Add your comment

CaliBrave

March 11th, 2012
11:59 am

Huddy, we need you.

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
12:07 pm

No doubt Cali but we got arms for days.And perhaps months

phoo

March 11th, 2012
12:17 pm

We need Huddy back so we can have a bat in our lineup. Not for his pitching. I think he might be our best hitter this year.

renegade#1

March 11th, 2012
12:28 pm

I reckon adding a pitcher to the team is one way of adding a bat to the lineup.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

March 11th, 2012
12:29 pm

Good news. Get him back fast.

ncgary

March 11th, 2012
12:30 pm

i just hope huddy is ok , pitching again would be a bonus

sherribeachgirl

March 11th, 2012
12:55 pm

Hey shouting out to BF_52 saw you flash chipontheroad… are you chip? u r how r u? no u from beach

Brownie

March 11th, 2012
1:20 pm

If this turns out like Huddy hopes, this will be really good news for the Braves…..long term. L5/S1 back problems cause daily pain and weakness – amazing he has been able to produce as he has for the past few years.

You have to assume that Jurrjens will be gone, leaving Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Teheran, Delgado, Gilmartin. Figure one of them will go down with Tommy John AND one (at least) will be traded for a big bat in the OF. That means they will definitely need Huddy for the next 3-5 years.

He’s a veteran, savvy, relies on movement (not power) and is a great dugout presence – if he remains healthy, he could easily last for 5 more.

Bill

March 11th, 2012
1:24 pm

after 5– Braves have 2 hits and have K’d 7 times.Pitching has been good so far. Not the Hanson game. J-Hey is in CF o-2.

Bill

March 11th, 2012
1:44 pm

6th..Jays 5 Braves 0..The pitchers gone deep south…The hitting has been south since last year. Oh well basketball FSU is beating the baby Blue..Nascar is starting..Pray for Braves they need it.

[...] Source: ajc.com [...]

PCOLA Braves Fan

March 11th, 2012
1:56 pm

7th Inning, 5 pitches to us, two to Hinske who hit the second out. The other three pitches are three outs…..What an OFFENSE!!!

Spice

March 11th, 2012
2:01 pm

Poor babies, Its just spring training. Calm down and take a break.

Bill

March 11th, 2012
2:11 pm

Shelbyflash

March 11th, 2012
2:16 pm

I’ve had the same surgery there and two other locations in my back hate to be a naysayer and wish him all the luck but I have been on disibility for 6 years

steve brown

March 11th, 2012
2:41 pm

Can Hudson play SS. The kid, Pastornicky, that was given the SS job apparently is missing 2 tools so far – hitting and fielding. If he is feeling the pressure now what would a pennant race do to him. Perfect example of the money spent on Chipper, an above average part timer at this point in his career, holding the team back.

Ted M

March 11th, 2012
3:09 pm

“Chipper, an above average part timer”

At this point he’s average… at best.

cornjolio

March 11th, 2012
3:32 pm

because of Chipper’s contract we couldn’t bring Alex Gonzalez back for another year or two until we develop or acquired a longterm solution at shortstop.

Perhaps when Bourn flees Atlanta after this season there might be some change left in the Braves’ vault to find a serviceable shortstop for 2013. Frank Wren tends to go on the cheap with the outfield. Perhaps Diaz will be in center in 2013, or they’ll bring back Langerhans.

Kwajbraves

March 11th, 2012
3:36 pm

Good luck Huddy. We need your bat in the lineup. :)

DaStuck

March 11th, 2012
3:47 pm

Liberty is CHEAP, but Chipper’s contract had NOTHING to do with the suddenly “Great Alex Gonzales” not resigning with us. It was Milwaukee’s willingness to include a second year. It just blows me away how much AGon has improved in the minds of many of you. Have you actually watched a full season of Mr. non-exisistant on base percentage? If we had re-signed him the cries would have been to give the kids a chance. Reminds me of an old Steve Earle song something about “I ain’t ever satisfied”…

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
4:01 pm

yes it is me sbg

Bill

March 11th, 2012
4:07 pm

Steve..go to MLB.com and read Mark Bowmans report on Simmons. He said Braves had planned to start Rev but might need to re think that..they would be better served to ditch that plan and start Simmons..He is the best defensive SS in many moons and can also hit. Much more go read.

Rufio

March 11th, 2012
4:35 pm

I hope it happens for Huddy. I had the same surgery by the same practice and it will be no walk in the park to be back at a job much less a physical one like a pitcher. There are two things Huddy will have to insist on…….#1-No One Touch Huddy’s Percocets!…….#2-Can anyone share there Percocets with Huddy! I hope narcotics are not considered an illegal substance. If they are he is doomed.

Seriously, I hope he succeeds. He is nothing but a class act!

SMOLTZ 29

March 11th, 2012
4:38 pm

Get back soon, Huddy. He’s the only experienced starter we have! Mercy

Tampa Gator

March 11th, 2012
4:42 pm

I was at the game today in Dunedin…..and to be frank…..the new kid at SS is not very good. Not a lot of range it seemed, slow to react to groundballs, poor throwing arm, and appeared to be very unsure of himself in the field and at the plate. Not a good sign. Good news: I was very impressed with the new kid playing 3B…but he made a poor decision to knock down and make a desperate throw to first with a man on 3rd….he scored on a bad throw. McCann looked not good at the plate as the DH. Heyward look horrible and the plate and in the field in CF. Braves looked like a minor league team….which they were in most positions….compared to the Blue Jays. The kid pitcher from FSU looked decent and the hitters were fooled a lot by his pitches. The rest of the pitchers the Braves rolled out were hit hard. Hinske powered one to right….and later signed about a thousand autographs for kids. Super thing to do. Braves look like they have an issue at SS…big time…unless this new kid can get over his nerves or whatever it is that makes him look “not ready for prime time.” And Heyward looks no better than last year…no confience at all at the plate…often looked confused and overpowered. And Matt Diaz….why is he on the team?

Mitchell

March 11th, 2012
6:35 pm

I saw Nate McLouth got three hits today.

Or at least three hits in his first three at-bats. Perhaps he added a fourth.

You know Nate.

Braves are Cheap

March 11th, 2012
6:54 pm

I’d rather have Alex Gonzalez, his stellar defense and occasional home run than what we got now, basically nothing !

sherribeachgirl

March 11th, 2012
7:29 pm

BF_52 where r u? someone said ur taken hope not. maybe we can meet up anyways for ole time sake where can I get u got a #

sherribeachgirl

March 11th, 2012
7:30 pm

BF52 got some good stuff
for us

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
7:40 pm

sea shells and such?lol

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
7:41 pm

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
7:43 pm

chipontheroad

sherribeachgirl

March 11th, 2012
7:44 pm

BF dont want nuthing from u already got sometime from ya ? member ? u gave me? watch ur self manda been trying to sneak up on ya she already email ur partner lots with fake names sic woman
dont want 2 meet ya either on my friends stuff here so got to go he’s mad hope u treat ur new wife good
dont want to see ya back here u better off away from here. live clean life

sherribeachgirl

March 11th, 2012
7:48 pm

B-F_52

March 11th, 2012
7:55 pm

luv them braves

March 11th, 2012
9:51 pm

Said it before – I’ll say it again. Heyward CANNOT get to the low and away heat. Just like Dale Murphy in his later years. Just like another flames out – Brad Kommisk (can’t remember how to spell his last name )

I dont know

March 11th, 2012
10:48 pm

lol 10 days into spring training and the bats are dead oh my god break up the braves!!! lol relax man damn, if the bats are dead in april then panic.

ohhhhYEAH

March 12th, 2012
5:30 am

@steve brown
“Perfect example of the money spent on Chipper, an above average part timer at this point in his career, holding the team back.”

I simply could not help but point out the obvious stupidity in your comment. First of all, youre trying to blame Chipper Jones for the struggles of a ROOKIE in SPRING TRAINING. Secondly, you still must not have checked last years stats, the ones where Chipper posted top 8 numbers in every offensive category among all major league third basemen, in only 127 games. Yeah, I tell ya, Ol Chip is realllly weighin this team down aint he? Please go spend your time pointing fingers at people besides one of the best third basemen in the game, like maybe JHey, or Bourn, or practicall anyone else right now, even our young pitchers. But seriously, the whole blaming Chipper thing is honestly just worn out and quite frankly stupid. If youre unhappy about the offense, why dont you ask your GM to trade one of the multitude of arms for a real left fielder, so we can have a bat and Prado can finally shine with another team at a position he deserves to play. You just may have won dumbest post of the month my friend

ohhhhYEAH

March 12th, 2012
5:57 am

Oh, and just to add onto that, for all you sabermetric lovers, Chipper was also top 6 in almost every one of those weird categories. Not to mention, before someone almost certainly tries to bring up his defense, he was a one-hundredth of a point behind Polanco in fielding percentage(.976), and tied with Descalso from STL for fewest errors(6). So like I said earlier, look for somewhere else to point the finer.

ohhhhYEAH

March 12th, 2012
5:58 am

Oh, and just to add onto that, for all you sabermetric lovers, Chipper was also top 6 in almost every one of those weird categories. Not to mention, before someone almost certainly tries to bring up his defense, he was a one-hundredth of a point behind Polanco in fielding percentage(.976), and tied with Descalso from STL for fewest errors(6). So like I said earlier, look for somewhere else to point the finger.

Tokyo jacket

March 12th, 2012
7:25 am

I honestly didn’t realize how strongly Huddy compared to other big names. I thought he was out of his prime. I guess I was wrong. Get well soon and be a second pitching coach along with Black Jack!

DaStuck

March 12th, 2012
9:29 am

ohhhh YEAH, Thank You. Chip did all that with hardly a leg to stand on (pun intended). One Knee rebuiltin the off season, the other scoped during the season. Had to give up the All-Star game and believe me he EARNED his spot on the All-Star team.

[...] surgery that he could be cleared to throw off a mound later this week and the veteran right-hander told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that his targeted return date is May 1 “at the [...]

Bob the Blogger

March 12th, 2012
1:04 pm

Hudson has had an excellent run with the Braves while pitching much of the time with a bad elbow and a bad back. Both have been fixed, so even though he’s in his mid thirties, I’d bet he has plenty left in the tank. With Hanson and JJ being Boras clients, and the young guns not having much experience, we need Hudson at his best.

By the way, I just returned from a few games in FL, and watched Hudson sign some autographs for some fans. He was very gracious and friendly. Just for what it’s worth.

John Schmaltz

March 15th, 2012
9:38 am

I like the “Hudson as star-bat in the lineup” idea. Now that his spine is fused, don’t you think he will get a little more torque to his swing and put some serious power behind his bat! lol

[...] had back surgery in November, and it’s been reported by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hudson wants to be back no later than May 1. Obviously, that depends on how his 36-year-old [...]

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