Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Daniel Hudson said the two-year ordeal was worth it, just to get back on a major league mound again. Two years, two Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgeries and two grueling rehabs later, Hudson was back. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning Wednesday night, contributing to a 6-1 victory against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Hudson threw nine of 13 pitches for strikes, hitting 94 mph on his first pitch and reaching 96 mph against Alexi Amarista, who later grounded out on a change-up. Those were just the results. Nobody but Hudson can understand the labor that went into getting them, 799 days after his most recent major league appearance. And nearly 15 months since his UCL tore a second time during a minor-league rehab start.
He had briefly considered walking away from the game.
He's glad he didn't.
"It was (worth it)," Hudson said after tossing a scoreless inning at Petco Park in his first major-league outing since June 26, 2012. "Even if I go out tomorrow and it blows again playing catch, it was worth it just to try again. It's been a long road and thankfully today came."
Hudson was developing into one of the better young starting pitchers in the majors before he got hurt, posting a 3.49 ERA with hitter-friendly Chase Field as his home ballpark. At age 27, after the surgeries, he's going to focus on pitching from relief. One inning in, he's a success.
Fans, friends and teammates wished him well and Hudson responded on Twitter:
RIP my mentions. So many emotions. So much fun. Thank you guys for sticking with me the last two plus years. I’m tearing up typing this— Daniel Hudson (@DHuddy41) September 4, 2014
UCL's aren't likely to tear a second time, but it happens. Sometimes it happens a third time, as in the case of Atlanta's Jonny Venters. The physical pain, emotional frustration and daily impatience stemming from the stopping of one's career are daunting enough hurdles to overcome. No less real are the mental, or even psychological barriers of trying to come back. If pitching in the majors is something you've always wanted, that's where much of the motivation comes from. But going through what Hudson has — twice — must have tested his sanity. To keep it, to get his elbow healthy again and to stay effective as a pitcher deserves no less than our collective awe.
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