LAKELAND, Fla. — Tim Hudson allowed a long home run to Prince Fielder, but Juan Francisco’s three-run shot off Rick Porcello helped the Atlanta Braves to a 5-3 victory on Wednesday.
Hudson pitched three innings and yielded two runs and two hits. He said afterward he feels he is on target to meeting his opening-day goals.
“There are things I still need to work on,” Hudson said. “Prince hit a cutter that didn’t cut. Every spring is about getting ready and it is really just a process of getting ready for the season. I don’t care how I do right now, it’s all about being ready four weeks from now.”
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn’t concerned about the home run or anything else when it came to Hudson.
“I saw a lot of good things,” Gonzalez said. “It was a good outing. He wants all shutout innings but he’ll be ready when it is time.”
Jordan Schafer, Chris Johnson, Joey Terdoslavich, and Francisco all had two hits for the Braves. Don Kelly homered for the Tigers.
Porcello, competing for one of the final spots in Detroit’s rotation, allowed three hits in two innings.
The Tigers’ first-round pick in 2007 (27th overall) started out by giving up a single, hitting a batter and allowing the home run to Francisco.
The homer came on a fastball that Leyland said four times in his postgame press conference was the wrong pitch to throw.
“He knows better than that,” Leyland said. “It was a judgment mistake. It won’t happen again.”
Porcello settled down and gave up only one more run.
“That was just a bad fastball and a bad idea,” Porcello said.
Porcello was considered one of the sure things in the Detroit rotation, but he struggled in 2012, going 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA. He pitched out of the bullpen in the postseason after starting 31 games for the Tigers, but he might be left out this year.
Justin Verlander is the ace and Max Scherzer and Doug Fister round out the top three, leaving Drew Smyly, Anibal Sanchez, and Porcello to compete for the final two spots.
Porcello said he isn’t getting down on himself. At 24, he knows he is still developing.
“I am still working on everything, so a bad fastball isn’t going to bother me,” Porcello said. “I feel good and there’s no extra pressure fighting for a spot in the rotation. I have never taken a spot in the rotation to be something for granted and I never will. I just have to do my own job.”
Leyland said he appreciates Porcello’s confidence and isn’t ready to make judgments based on one long home run.
“He made a mistake that I know he won’t make during the season,” Leyland said. “He’s got it all figured out and he’s confident. He just made a mistake.”
Leyland was asked if he spoke to Porcello about the fastball that got away.
“It’s already handled,” Leyland said.