Notes: Hudson going in right direction

Notes: Hudson going in right direction

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's how you finish, not how you start. That goes for Spring Training, and it goes for Spring Training outings.

So everyone felt a lot better Tuesday about Tim Hudson after his third inning than they had after his first.

"After the opening inning, I felt like I was getting stronger. It felt like I finished up pretty good," Hudson said after his three-inning turn in the Braves' 10-1 win over the Phillies.

"He was throwing a flattened-out fastball in the first inning. But he sure looked good the next two," said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox.

Coming off an unsatisfying debut, in which he lacked his usual command with the fastball, Hudson endured a rocky outset. Three straight men reached base with one out in the first, including Ryan Howard on an RBI single.

By the third, Hudson was dealing, retiring the side in order. He started off the middle man, Howard, with two pinpointed 92-mph fastballs.

"I would like not to give up so many hits [now eight in five innings]," Hudson said. "My location needs to be better and I need to stand taller on the rubber.

"But once I get my legs under me, I should be where I want to be in a couple of weeks."

Hot stick at the corner: With Chipper Jones still nursing his right hamstring back into game shape, youngster Brent Lillibridge played third base for the first time in his career.

It agreed with him: After going 0-for-11 in his first five games, the 24-year-old went 3-for-4, drove in a run and scored two. He also flawlessly handled every chance, four of them.

"Man, he can play," understated Cox, who appears to have developed a fondness for the slightly-built infielder.

In three Minor League seasons, Lillibridge has played 263 games at short and one at second.

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Two-fer: Cox's latest reaction to Johan Santana joining the National League East fray with the Mets -- a development on which his opinion is often sought -- brought to mind Buzzie Bavasi's notorious comment when Nolan Ryan left the Angels as a free agent.

Ryan had gone 16-14 in 1979, before taking The Express to Houston.

"We'll just replace him with a couple of 8-7 pitchers," said Bavasi, the Angels general manager.

"We got two new pitchers, they got one," Cox said.

The Braves' two "new" guys? Tom Glavine, on his Braves reunion tour, and Mike Hampton, who has been on the scene but not on a mound for two years.

"It was a great move for them," Cox added of the Mets, punctuating with a shrug. "They've got the money to do that."

Hampton right on: Two days after an impressive spring debut (two innings, one hit), Hampton's left elbow still felt normal. He and his manager both wore wide grins.

"He's smiling this morning," reported Cox, calling the veteran's outing against the Astros "nasty."

"He didn't just get through it. They weren't getting good swings on him at all," Cox said. "We're counting on him. If it doesn't happen, we've got others who can step in -- and that depth is something we did not have last year."

"Hampton looks super," Hudson chimed in. "I know how excited he is about being able to get out there and contribute."

French quarter: Paul Hagen, the veteran Philadelphia baseball writer, sauntered into the Braves' clubhouse with his credential dangling from the same cord it has for years. This time, as he passed in front of Jeff Francoeur's stall, the writing on the cord was poetically just.

It read, "Frenchy's Clearwater Beach," referencing a favorite little bistro.

Francoeur's nickname is Frenchy.

"Hey," an alert Braves teammate called out, "Francoeur owns his own beach?"

Came the retort: "Not yet. But he might be able to afford one in a couple of years."

Braves bits: Jones took batting practice from both sides of the plate and also fielded grounders with no problems. He'll skip Wednesday's trip to Winter Haven, Fla., but may rejoin the lineup Thursday in Lakeland, Fla., where he would be able to be the designated hitter against the Tigers. ... Reliever Rafael Soriano still has a queasy stomach, but all tests on him have been negative and Cox thinks he may get in a game by the weekend; the additional layoff is also enabling extra rest for the righty's elbow. ... Atlanta has outscored its Major League opponents 39-19 (excluded is the 8-0 shutout of the University of Georgia).

Up next: Francoeur, up to his usual Grapefruit League tricks, will take aim at some American League pitchers as the Braves meet the Indians in Winter Haven, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Francoeur's two-run double in Tuesday's win gave him the team lead with six RBIs in five games; the last two springs, he had totaled 26 ribbies in 38 exhibitions. Jair Jurrjens draws the start for Atlanta.

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