The feel-good part is over and now it’s time to get to work.
That’s the point where Diamondbacks’ right-hander Daniel Hudson finds himself down the long and winding road.
Having undergone two Tommy John surgeries for ligament damage to his right elbow and not pitched in a major league game in over two years, Hudson’s patience remains strong but the competitive fire is eating at his soul.
Still, it appears the 27-year-old native of Virginia Beach, Va. could be back in Sedona Red within two weeks.
Hudson took another significant step to reaching the mound once again in Chase Field on Saturday by throwing one strong inning for the Diamondbacks rookies in an Arizona League game at Salt River against the Texas Rangers rookies.
Afterward, Hudson pronounced himself pain-free and looking to advance in his rehab program.
“Feel great but I know I need to work on some things to get major hitters out,” he said. “My breaking ball right now is not where I want it to be but I’m okay with my fast ball and fast ball command.”
Going forward, the plan, no matter which level he is pitching, is have Hudson go only one inning each time out. If his pitch count reaches into the mid-20s, then he may be pulled. Yet, the organization is limiting Hudson to just one inning per appearance for the rest of the season.
For the immediate task at hand, Hudson says his curve command is important.
‘Since I will be coming out of the bullpen, I want to keep hitters guessing with the curve,” he said. “I told (catcher Tyler Clark on Saturday) I was sorry for shaking off fast balls but know I need throw the curve for strikes.”
During his rehab period, the Diamondbacks made a slight adjustment to Hudson’s delivery. Previously, he displayed a noted sling and quasi-sidearm delivery. Now, he is attempting to throw more overhand and the change is visible.
“I'm over the top more and the ball is coming out of my hand better,” he said. “The mechanics are a little messed up now but it’s nothing that can’t be ironed out in a short period of time. The bottom line is health and everything is good for now.”
Against the Rangers, Hudson showed a good economy of pitches and command in placing several pitches down and away from right-handed hitters. For his one inning work, Hudson threw 13 pitches and seven for strikes. Of the four hitters he faced, he threw two, first-pitch strikes and struck out first baseman Zack Stephens on a breaking pitch, low and away, to end the inning.
In his three rehab appearances to date, Hudson has thrown three innings, allowed one run, struck out three and posted a 3.00 ERA.
Going forward, Hudson will complete this week with the rookie D-backs and then head to Triple-A Reno for the Aces’ final days of their season next week.
If all goes well, Hudson is then scheduled to join the Diamondbacks in San Diego on September 1.
Regarding progress at this point, Hudson smiled, “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
RECORD HITTING STREAK
With a 2-for-5 afternoon Sunday against the Marlins, centerfielder Ender Inciarte extended his hitting streak to 17 games, an Arizona club record for a rookie.
In the streak, Inciarte is 24-for-75, and that’s a .320 batting average. Overall on the season, he is hitting. .266.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE WHITE HOUSE
After dropping four of their first six games on this 10-game trip, the Diamondbacks move into Washington for four against the Nationals.
On Monday night, Vidal Nuno (0-3, 3.92 ERA) takes on righty Jordan Zimmerman (8-5, 2.92).
For Tuesday night, rookie Chase Anderson (7-4, 3.16) gets the ball from manager Kirk Gibson and opposes right-hander Stephen Strasburg (9-10, 3.53).
On Wednesday night, Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.68 and four straight quality starts) draws righty Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.53) as his mound opponent.
In the finale Thursday, look for Wade Miley (7-9, 4.46) to go against lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.06).
Against Zimmerman Monday night, Aaron Hill is 4-for-11 (.364) and Miguel Montero is 4-for-14, .286 but has struck out six times facing Zimmerman.
Against Strasburg Tuesday night, Hill is 2-for-12 (.167) but three strikeouts. Aside from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, out for the season with a broken left hand (.471 batting average), Hill is the only Diamondback with any numbers against Strasburg.
Facing Cahill, Asdrubal Cabrera is 3-for-12 (.281). Ex-Diamondback Adam LaRoche is 4-for-11 (.364) while Denardo Span is also 4-for-11 against Cahill.
On Thursday, Nats’ reserve Scott Hairston is 5-for-13 (.385) and Jayson Werth is 2-for-9 (.222) against Miley. Hill is 2-for-10 (.200) and Mark Trumbo is 3-for-12 (.250) against Gonzalez but has struck out six times the Nats‘ lefty.
Then, the Diamondbacks return to Chase Field for an eight-game home stand. First up are the Padres for a three-game, weekend set and home stand opens with Josh Collmenter (8-7, 4.31 ERA) taking on righty Jesse Hahn (7-3, 2.96) at 6:40 p.m Friday night.
The Dodgers for two and the Rockies for three follow San Diego.