SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The baseball gods had some fun with Tim Hudson on Wednesday. The 39-year-old was making his first appearance since having ankle surgery, and naturally the leadoff batter, speedy outfielder Gerardo Parra, hit a chopper to the right side that forced Hudson to cover first base.
“I knew it was going to be the first play,” Hudson said. “I’m surprised it wasn’t bang-bang with me jumping and having to do cartwheels to get it.”
Hudson sprinted over and made the play easily, and he worked out of a jam to pitch a scoreless frame in his debut. He said his ankle is “a non-issue” at this point. Now, his focus is simply on getting his arm in shape. Hudson believes he has enough time left to get up to speed before Opening Day.
“I’m ahead of where I was last year at this time,” he said, adding that his conditioning wasn’t quite there yet when he took the mound last April. “The ankle feels much better than it did last year and I feel like I’m in better shape.”
Hudson had bone chips removed from his right ankle — which had been fractured in 2013 — the first week of January, and at the time the Giants said he would need eight weeks to recover. Dave Groeschner’s rehab schedule turned out to be pretty exact, with Hudson making his debut when the Giants anticipated he would. Luis Jimenez followed Parra’s grounder with a hustle double to left. After a Ryan Braun flyout and walk of Khris Davis, Martin Maldonado stared at strike three.
Hudson said the rehab process went smoothly, and he called the procedure “pretty straightforward.”
“It’s usually six weeks for young guys,” he said. “I think since I’m old it’s eight. Osteoporosis starts making those bones get a little slower.”
The Giants have tried to keep Hudson off the field as much as possible this spring, but he did throw two live BP sessions before taking the mound Wednesday. Although Giants prospects hit him hard, Hudson joked that it was all part of the plan.
“I might have helped (Ehire) Adrianza out the other day,” Hudson said. “I think I got him a roster spot. I gave up three or four hits to him.”