PHOENIX – After pitching five good innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, Tim Hudson is expected to make one more rehab start before returning to the Braves rotation April 29th or 30th against Pittsburgh.
It’s been presumed that Randall Delgado would be sent down to Triple-A when Hudson returns, and manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that was still the plan barring anything unexpected.
Delgado (2-0, 4.35 ERA in two starts) has pitched better than Jair Jurrjens (0-1, 8.10 ERA in three starts), but the Braves are not considering a demotion for Jurrjens, who was an All-Star in 2011 before knee problems slowed and eventually sidelined him in the second half.
“He’s pitched good enough for me,” Gonzalez said of Delgado. “Those are good things for him to keep doing — just go out and keep pitching. If he’s the one who’s got to go down, we’re going to need him again [this season]. There’s not many rotations, if any, anymore that go intact the whole year. So that’s an option, for him to go down.
“It’s not a given, by any means. Does he pitch two more times [before Hudson returns]? You know how that goes. Somebody comes up with a blister, somebody comes up with a hangnail. I don’t want [Delgado] thinking, ‘this is going to be my last start.’ Just go out and pitch.”
Delgado is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale against the Diamondbacks, then probably one of the first two games of the four-game Pittsburgh series April 27-30.
Hudson’s start Wednesday went better than his two previous rehab starts for Class-A Rome, which didn’t seem to surprise the veteran sinkerballer.
“I think you could throw the rosin bag up there and A-ball guys would swing at it,” joked Hudson, who was charged with one unearned run and two hits in five innings Wednesday, with three walks with four strikeouts. “The guys in Triple-A, they’re more patient. They’re looking for certain pitches in certain counts, certain zones.
“As a pitcher you feel like you can have a little better game plan and have a little better idea how to set some pitches up. You’ve got to hit your way up out of A-ball. Give those kids credit; it’s just a little different. They have a little more of an approach the higher the levels you go.”
Hudson gave up a leadoff triple, then walked the next two batters before inducing a comebacker to the mound for a double-play grounder beginning with a throw to home plate.
“Stuff-wise last night I felt like I was pretty close to where I want to be,” said Hudson, who rejoined the Braves in Phoenix. “I’d like to get my arm strength up a little bit. I was sitting around 89-90 [mph] most of the night. I had some 87, 88’s in there — I don’t like seeing those too much on the radar gun. But I think after pitching more and getting some more work, working out and long-tossing, that stuff will get better.”
Hudson threw 76 pitches in the game, then 14 more in the bullpen to get to his planned 90. He’ll throw 100-110 pitches in his next rehab start.
Gonzalez: Jurrjens will be OK
Gonzalez said he believes Jurrjens will turn things around and said he’s not worried about the right-hander, who has been mostly ineffective since last year’s All-Star break, including most of spring training.
In 16 starts before the All-Star break last year, Jurrjens went 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA, .229 opponents’ average and 65 strikeouts with 25 walks in 110-2/3 innings.
In 10 regular-season starts since then, he’s 1-4 with a 6.42 ERA, .317 opponents’ average and 33 strikeouts with 28 walks in 54-2/3 innings. In Wednesday’s soggy game, he gave up four runs, seven hits and four walks in four innings.
“I looked at some video of him on the plane and it was just some balls left over the plate,” Gonzalez said. “Whether it was the weather, tough conditions – [Mets starter R.A.] Dickey didn’t last long, either. It was a tough day to pitch. I’m just going to chalk it up to that right now.”
Asked if Jurrjens’ balky right knee was still an issue, Gonzalez said, “He was out here hitting and running around earlier. He was fine. Every pitcher goes through a little funk.”
All 11 Braves who batted in Wednesday’s 14-6 win against the Mets had at least one hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Braves hadn’t had that many players get hits in a game since May 8, 2005, when 11 had at least one hit in a 9-0 win against Houston….
The Braves had multiple runs in six innings Wednesday, the first time they’d done that in three decades. They last did it in a 15-3 win against the Phillies on June 10, 1972, when they also had six multi-run innings….
Over their past 10 games before Thursday, the Braves had a majors-leading 55 runs and a National League-leading 11 homers and 52 RBIs. For the season, the Braves ranked second in the NL with 65 runs, five fewer than St. Louis before Thursday.