Tim Hudson got off to a late start this season coming off back surgery, but he’s been making up ground – with his bat. With four hits in his past seven at-bats, the affable Braves starter finally passed Randall Delgado in hits (seven) and he’s one shy now of injured Brandon Beachy for the staff lead in RBIs with three.
“Just wait ‘til I hit my homer,” Hudson assured his lockermate Beachy on Monday afternoon.
Hudson has a lot of fun with his hitting. He joked that when he got to first base Sunday after his single off the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, he was telling first baseman Ryan Howard a little about how it’s done. “You’ve got to stay inside the ball…,” he said.
But Hudson does take his hitting seriously, as he says all of the Braves pitchers do. He said he and Kris Medlen like to go into the batting cages and take flips.
“Even if it’s just making the opposing pitcher throw five more pitches in a game,” he said.
Hudson is well off the Silver Slugger pace being set by Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, who has hit .323 (10-for-31) with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs, but he’s moved up to seventh among qualified NL pitchers at .219.
“I enjoy it, even when I don’t get hits,” Hudson said. “Even when I look like a chump up there, I still enjoy it. I still feel like I’m a baseball player at heart. Even the worst-hitting pitchers in the game were once a pretty good hitter. It might have been in Little League, but at one time they were a real good hitter.”
For Hudson, it was a little later than that. His senior year at Auburn, at age 21, he hit .396, with 18 home runs and 95 RBIs in 65 games, in addition to going 15-2 with a 2.97 ERA on the mound to win SEC player of the year.
The Marlins sent struggling right-hander Carlos Zambrano (1-3, 6.52 ERA in past four starts) to the bullpen and will start left-hander Wade LeBlanc on Wednesday instead, who has a 1.15 ERA in 11 relief appearances….Gonzalez is considering resting center fielder Michael Bourn for a day (he was hitting.255 with 35 strikeouts in 102 at-bats in July entering Sunday), but indicated he’d prefer to wait to see if the Braves acquire a right-handed bat first. Jason Heyward would start in center field in his place.
The Braves are offering a discounted four-game ticket package for the final four Friday home games leading up to Chipper Jones’ farewell celebration night on Friday, Sept. 28 against the Mets. The Braves will also give out commemorative prints from four different stages of Jones’ career before each of those Friday games – to the first 30,000 fans on Aug. 17, Aug. 31 and Sept. 14 and to the first 45,000 fans on Sept. 28. For information go to braves.com/chipper.