Programming note: For comprehensive Giants coverage from Arizona, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Eli Whiteside settled into a squat, put his glove out in front of his left knee, and caught a Tim Hudson fastball that was right on target. Whiteside, the new bullpen catcher, moved his glove to the other side of the plate, and Hudson painted another imaginary corner.
That was the routine through Hudson's 25-pitch bullpen session, his first of the spring. The right-hander hit most of his spots and was thrilled with how he felt after getting back on a mound for the first time since having minor ankle surgery in January.
"It's the first time I've been on the mound since Game 7 (of the World Series), so that's a little bit surprising," Hudson said of his Day 1 command. "It's nice to get out and get one behind me. I'm pretty pleased with where I was."
Hudson is only a couple of weeks behind the other starters as he recovers from an early January procedure to remove bone chips from his right ankle. He doesn't feel he's far behind at all, and said that barring a setback over the next six weeks, he'll be in the rotation when the regular season starts in April.
The Giants could use the rotation boost; Hudson had a 3.57 ERA in 189 1/3 innings in his first season in San Francisco. He settled in as the No. 2 starter last year, but the Giants are hoping they won't need Hudson to carry such a heavy load this time around since Matt Cain is back from elbow surgery and Jake Peavy is around for a full season.
Manager Bruce Bochy hasn't yet revealed his spring rotation plans, and Hudson is expected to have a lighter load than usual. He'll be rested as often as possible, especially when he's not needed on a bullpen or stadium mound. He was the only pitcher in the bullpen behind right field on Wednesday morning, throwing all fastballs as coaches and trainers looked on.
"That went well," Bochy said. "We expected him to be ready. We didn't have any concerns. We've got plenty of time. He'll be ready."
Hudson never appeared limited during the session and threw at nearly full speed. The 39-year-old was especially happy with how his body felt during his biggest test of the spring thus far.
"I felt it was coming out pretty good," he said. "I had my legs under me."
Alex Pavlovic will appear on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight at 5, 7 p.m. and 11 to discuss all things Giants at spring training.