Hudson, 31, was in the Royals' Minor League camp this year after missing all of 2008 and virtually all of '07 after shoulder surgery. But the pain still was with him.
"It just feels like a sharp knife in there, and twisting when I throw," Hudson said. "It's just physically impossible."
Hudson, signed during Spring Training 2006 after being dropped by the Reds, joined the Royals' rotation on July 7 that year and quickly caught the attention of the fans.
He was 4-0 in his first six starts and finished 6-3 as a starter, although his record easily could have been much better. The bullpen blew six saves for him after he'd left the game with a lead.
Oddly enough, he's also fondly remembered for a historic shellacking he took on Aug. 13, 2006, at Cleveland. He got just one out in the first inning and was hammered for 11 runs. That was the most runs any pitcher had given up in the first inning in 109 years -- since Sept. 21, 1897, when Boston's Kid Nichols surrendered 12 to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms -- but Hudson knew the bullpen was dragging, and he even begged to stay in the game when manager Buddy Bell finally yanked him.
Buoyed by family and friends and the Royals, Hudson was brimming with optimism this winter when the club resigned him and gave him another shot.
"I thought I was going to make it back. I thought I could throw, and then it just got worse," he said. "I wanted to get back just for them as much as for myself."
Hudson, from Huntington Beach, Calif., was first drafted by the Rockies in 1998, but he was traded to the Reds and reached the Major Leagues in 2002. In a total of 58 games for the Reds and the Royals, he finished with a 17-18 record and a 5.11 ERA. His best year was that 2006 season, when he went 7-6 for KC.
"I finally hit my stride in '06, and it got taken away," he said.
Hudson is packing up his gear and isn't sure what he'll do next.
"No matter what you do," Hudson said, "it's not going to be pitching in the Major Leagues."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.