LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Four months after back surgery, pitcher Tim Hudson makes his much-anticipated return to competition with a start Monday against the Mets.
The Braves veteran is scheduled to pitch two innings, with Brandon Beachy taking over from there.
“Things are good, man,” said Hudson, 36. “The arm feels good. It’s getting in shape. My arm strength isn’t quite where I want it, but it’s pretty good for the stage of where I’m at – I’m in what amounts to the second week of spring training for me.”
Hudson had lumbar spine-fusion surgery Nov. 28 and resumed throwing in mid-January. The plan is for him to make five or six rehab starts at Class-A Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett.
He’s tentatively set to make his first start for Rome on the road Saturday, then start the team’s home opener April 12.
“Two innings, make sure he knows where the plate is, and go forward,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of expectations for Hudson on Monday. “That’s all. And just keep going forward. Make sure he gets in that five-day rotation and he’s healthy. Knowing him, he’s going to be excited to go out there and compete tomorrow.”
Pastornicky in shortstop lead?
Before they head north to Atlanta after Monday’s game, the Braves will probably inform Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons which of the rookies has the shortstop job. Pastornicky appears the likely choice based on his performance in the past 10 days, coupled with Simmons’ strained left side and recent slump.
Pastornicky had three walks and a single in five plate appearances Sunday and has hit .375 (9-for-24) since March 21.
The one who doesn’t get the major league job is expected to start the season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Martin Prado had sore legs Saturday after playing seven out of eight games and lifting weights, so Gonzalez rested him Saturday and Sunday. Prado wanted to play Sunday, but Gonzalez told him he’d be back in the lineup Monday against the Mets and Tuesday when the Braves play a team of their top prospects at Gwinnett’s Coolray Field…. Chipper Jones, recovering from last week’s arthroscopic knee surgery, will rejoin the Braves on Tuesday and likely take batting practice before the game at Gwinnett. The third baseman will begin the season on the 15-day DL and hopes to be back for the Brave’s home opener April 13 vs. Milwaukee…. Tommy Hanson, named opening day starter on Saturday, will be the youngest (25) to start a season opener for the Braves since John Smoltz (23) in 1991.