LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – His checkup went so well Tuesday, Tim Hudson joked that his doctor told him he kicked back surgery’s butt.
The veteran Braves pitcher was in good spirits Wednesday before heading to the field for his first full bullpen session since having lumbar spine-fusion surgery 3-1/2 months ago.
“It was a very, very good report — t he geriatric program is working around here,” cracked Hudson, 36. “I’ve increased my workload pretty substantially over the last couple of weeks and it has responded well. It’s responded as if I was doing light stuff. The X-ray looked good and my range of motion was good.
“Two thumbs up, man.”
The right-hander could join the starting rotation around May 1. Hudson said he might be back a little sooner, but he and the Braves won’t pinpoint a specific target date. It’ll just depend on when he’s ready.
“Nothing’s written in stone but I suspect that right now it’s just [a matter of] getting me in shape, my arm and legs in throwing shape,” he said. “That’s the one thing that we’re concentrating on now is getting in pitch shape.”
Hudson is owed $9 million in 2012 in the last season of a three-year, $28 million contract extension that also has a $9 million option for 2013 with a $1 million buyout.
Over the past two seasons, the Alabama native went 33-19 with a 3.02 ERA and .232 opponents’ average in 443-2/3 innings.
Lefty Mike Minor is competing with prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado for the fifth spot in the Braves’ rotation. One of those who doesn’t win the job is expected to fill the other vacancy until Hudson returns.