KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The original plan was for Tim Hudson to go one inning in his first start of spring training. Then, Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided his ace might be able to go two.
After pitching two innings of the Braves’ 8-2 loss to the New York Mets on Monday in his first outing since having off-season back surgery, Hudson said he would have liked to have gone three.
“We are not going to rush him,” Gonzalez said. “We can hang on until he’s ready.”
Hudson allowed an infield hit in two innings. He went 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA for the Braves last year, but will start the season in the minors. Hudson said he expects to pitch one additional inning in each of his starts on the minor league level in April until returning to the majors in early May.
Hudson said he feels close to being ready, and didn’t feel any pain after throwing 25 pitches, 16 for strikes against the Mets.
“I felt perfectly normal out there,” Hudson said. “I threw my cutter, my curve, my split. I needed a little more time during warmups to get going, but I felt fine. I threw everything I had. No pain.”
Hudson has been trying to accelerate his recovery. He said he’s been throwing for six weeks and feels he is in pitching shape despite the layoff. Hudson has spent some time on the disabled list in the past, including when he had Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss almost all of 2009.
This is the first time he had a herniated disk.
“It’s different, but it feels fine,” Hudson said. “By the time I get back I know I might be a little nervous, but I am not concerned.”
Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy, the No. 4 starter, made what amounted to a start, taking over for Hudson in the third inning. Beachy has had a shaky spring and went six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs to take the loss.
The Mets scored four runs in the ninth capped by Ruben Tejada’s three-run homer. Jordan Parraz and Freddie Freeman homered for Atlanta.