Notes: Hudson's defense still stellar

Notes: Hudson's defense still stellar

PITTSBURGH -- It's been a tough year at the plate for Orlando Hudson thus far.

The Diamondbacks second baseman came into Thursday with a .221 average for the year and a .172 mark in May.

Yet there's still a smile on his face and his defense is still stellar.

"He brings his glove with him a little harder when he's not swinging," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

An example of that was Wednesday night when he raced into shallow right field to snag Freddy Sanchez's popup in the ninth inning.

"If that falls in, then all of a sudden it's a whole different scenario," Melvin said. "That, for me, looked like a hit off the bat. He went a long way to get that ball."

One of the things that helps Hudson remain upbeat, that aids him keep things in perspective, is a copy of the book The Greatest Salesman in the World, which can be found in his locker at home or on the road. Its pages are dog eared and its spine has long since been broken, but it's helped Hudson stay together.

Written by Og Mandino in 1968, the book has become a classic over the years. Don't be fooled by the title, the book is more about a philosophy of life than it is about sales.

"It's a real humbling book," Hudson said. "It talks about going through struggles, and right now I'm going through one of those struggles, so it's good. It talks about family and how to separate your job from your family and not bring your work problems home or your home problems to work."

The book was given to him by Tony Batista in 2001, when the pair played for the Blue Jays. Batista told Hudson he should read it before every game, and for the past five years he's done just that. The paperback shows the wear and tear of all the travels, but Hudson has no plans to buy a new copy. He just keeps taping together the old one.

"I've definitely put that book to use," Hudson said. "I recommend it to all players and all fans. It's just a great book with a lot of great things for people in it."

Still looking: One clean inning is all reliever Brandon Medders is looking for.

Medders, who began the year on disabled list with a strained muscle in his back, almost had one against the Reds on Sunday, but Felipe Lopez beat out an infield hit.

"When I say clean, I'm talking about nobody getting on base," Medders said. "I feel like I can definitely do what I did last year, and a lot of times last year I went three up, three down. I think that would give me a lot of confidence to just do it."

Medders was 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 27 games for Arizona last year. He's thrown his sinker less of late in favor of a four-seam fastball, a cutter and his slider, which is more of a combination between a slider and curve.

He is just now starting to find the comfort zone with the cutter that he had last year.

"That was the biggest thing -- finding it with my cutter," he said.

For the time being, Melvin said Medders will remain in his middle relief role, pitching mainly in the sixth inning, but he could wind up pitching later in games as he continues to progress.

"There are still some things he's ironing out," Melvin said. "But I think he's getting more confident in his demeanor on the mound."

Sitting: Shortstop Craig Counsell was not in Thursday's lineup, with Damion Easley scheduled to get the start instead. Counsell was scratched from Sunday's game with stiffness in his back, but that isn't why he wasn't tabbed to start Thursday.

"He wasn't 100 percent when he came back from the back," Melvin said. "[But] it's more a day game after a night game than anything else."

Up next: The Diamondbacks will get their first look this year at Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols on Friday when they open a three-game set at Busch Stadium in St. Louis at 5:10 p.m. MST.

Pujols set a Major League record with 14 home runs in the month of April and already has 18 for the year.

"From the first time we faced him in 2001 with [Randy Johnson] on the mound, and he took him deep, we've been struggling to find an area to go," Melvin said of trying to pitch to Pujols. "It would be one thing if he didn't have power to the opposite field, but he does. You try to take a look at how he swung the series before, how other teams have tried to pitch to him and if someone has had success doing something, but there doesn't seem to be a glaring area that you can go with him.

"He's so short to the ball. He doesn't stride, he gets a good long look at it, stays behind it, gets extended. If you're teaching and putting a video together, he's a pretty good guy to start with."

The D-Backs just hope he isn't putting on a clinic this weekend.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.