Programming note: Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Six months after Tim Hudson fractured his ankle while covering first base, he made his spring debut for the Giants on Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it, on the fourth batter he faced, he had to find the bag again.
He didn’t make it. First baseman Brandon Belt’s throw got past him for an error.
Did Hudson put that play on himself?
“I put that one on the fact I’m old and slow, like an old vintage car,” he said, smiling. “Can’t take me to a drag race.”
The 38-year-old right-hander peeled out from the starting line well enough, all things considered. He struck out one in two scoreless innings. The only batter who reached base was old A’s teammate Eric Chavez, on that grounder to Belt when Hudson was late to cover.
And Hudson was able to redeem himself two batters later, when he deftly covered first base as the Giants completed a 3-6-1 double play.
“I managed to find first base one time,” Hudson said. “One out of two.”
It was more of a test than he or the Giants probably wanted in his first game action since July 24, when the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. inadvertently stepped on his foot and he was carried out of Citi Field on a stretcher.
It was a gruesome injury. So you could understand his reticence on that first grounder.
“I probably could have caught it, but I would’ve felt like Wes Welker going over the middle with the linebacker looking at me,” Hudson said. “I’m not sure spring training is the right time to do that, the first time out.”
Hudson only began doing agility drills last week. He has taken pitcher’s fielding practice a couple times, but always on the back fields. So for this vintage roadster, two cover plays in his first spring game amounted to more than a tuneup.
Hudson said the ankle responded well as he pushed off toward first base. He was more concerned with the shape his pitches took, especially breaking balls that stayed in the dirt.
The first inning was tidy enough. He threw three pitches to strike out leadoff batter Gerardo Parra – called, swinging and called – then got two fly outs. He was on the mound barely three minutes.
Still, he said the 0-2 pitch to Parra was a hanging split that he was fortunate the batter took.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Hudson, who worked from the windup for the first time.
Hudson threw 17 of his 27 pitches for strikes. That was plenty for a nice, Sunday drive.