The last time Tim Hudson(notes) took the mound, he ended up leaving with an injured elbow that needed surgery. After 13 months, the former ace will return to the site of that premature exit, trying to give the Atlanta Braves’ playoff chances a boost.
Hudson is scheduled to get the ball Tuesday for his season debut as the Braves face the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.
Hudson was 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 23 games - 22 starts - last year, but had his season cut short after an elbow injury forced him out of a win at Florida on July 23. Less than a week later, the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery.
He was expected to start Monday, but the Braves (69-62) opted to push him back a day before beating the Marlins 5-2 in the opener of this four-game series.
“I definitely feel ready,” said Hudson, who could become a free agent after the season. “It’s going to be like any other game.”
Hudson is 146-77 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 seasons with Oakland and Atlanta. He won a career-high 20 games in 2000 and was a two-time All-Star with the Athletics before being traded to the Braves in a four-player deal prior to the 2006 season.
Hudson will now have a chance to help Atlanta cut into the three-game gap on co-leaders Colorado and San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
He’s 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts against the Marlins (68-63), going 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in eight games in Miami.
“It’s a huge win, probably the biggest one of the year especially sitting back and watching how the first six innings went,” said third baseman Chipper Jones(notes), who had one hit and two runs Monday.
“We are very fortunate we have played some really good baseball since the All-Star break,” Jones said. “Pretty much all of September we are going against teams in our division so there won’t be any surprises. We have two big series with Florida and I’m sure it’s going to be tooth and nail the whole way.”
Jones, though, is hitting .120 with one homer and five RBIs over the last 15 games, but he’s had strong success against Marlins with a .379 average, 11 homers and 34 RBIs over the last 38 meetings.
The Marlins have dropped four of five and are one game behind the Braves in the wild card standings.
“There’s no sense of urgency,” said second baseman Dan Uggla(notes), who had two hits and two runs Monday. “There’s still time, there’s still a lot of games left. We’re all calm and relaxed and I’m pretty sure we’re going to stay that way.”
The right-hander, who has been on the disabled list twice with shoulder problems, allowed four runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss to New York on Thursday. That came six days after he dominated the Braves in a 5-3 win, yielding one run and two hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.
He’s 3-3 with a 4.54 ERA in seven starts against Atlanta.