LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tim Hudson admitted he was a little nervous before making his spring debut in Monday's 8-2 loss to the Mets, but you wouldn't have picked up on any apprehension given the way he pitched.
In his first game action since undergoing back surgery last November, Hudson pitched two nearly perfect innings, giving up one hit and striking out two batters. He threw 25 pitches, 16 of them for strikes, and used everything in his arsenal. He said he threw cutters, curveballs, and even got a strikeout with the only splitter he tossed.
"It felt normal," Hudson said. "Honestly, I went out there and tried to pitch like I was in a real game. I was trying to make pitches and get some swings and misses. I wasn't really trying to finesse around anything. At this point, I need to see where I'm at. And so far, so good.
"I feel better right now, in this first Spring Training game, than I normally do in my first Spring Training game. ... I feel like I'm a little bit ahead of the game in that aspect."
Hudson will increase his workload by an inning each time he pitches. His next outing is scheduled for Saturday with Class A Rome against the Charleston RiverDogs. He'll make another start with the Rome Braves after that, throwing four innings.
The 36-year-old right-hander said he felt like he could have pitched another inning Monday, but it would have been perhaps too physically taxing, as he could already feel his legs wearing down toward the end of his second inning. He has thrown as many as 40 pitches during live batting practice, but he is still building up arm strength and endurance in order to rejoin the Braves' rotation some time in late April or early May.
"He was excited," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He mixed all his pitches. I'm sure he probably didn't think he was as sharp as he should have been, but I thought he was. For the first time in a while, and getting out there in front of a crowd, it was good. I was happy for him."