DENVER -- Mark Wohlers heard the news of his trade to the Cincinnati Reds while he was driving home from the dentist Friday morning and felt a mixture of feelings.
"I'm happy and sad," he said. "I'm happy to be finally going somewhere, but at the same time I'm saying good-bye to the only organization I know."
Wohlers was dealt to the Reds in exchange for reliever John Hudek, who was 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in two appearances this season. The Braves optioned Mike Cather to Class AAA Richmond and transferred Kerry Ligtenberg to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Hudek.
Wohlers, 29, was designated for assignment April 9, and when he refused the assignment, the Braves were forced to trade him. General manager John Schuerholz spoke with several teams and the best deal he could make was for the 32-year-old Hudek, who was 5-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 58 games for the Mets and Reds last season.
"It boiled down to we tried to do the best we could under trying circumstances and we got a very capable and experienced major league pitcher out of the deal," Schuerholz said.
Hudek was scheduled to join the team in Denver on Friday night and was unavailable for comment. The right-hander, whose best season was in 1994 when he was 0-2 with 16 saves and a 2.97 ERA with the Astros, has bounced between the majors and minor leagues the last few years.
Hudek had major arm surgery in 1996 and pitched in only 15 games for the Astros. He was traded to the Mets for outfielder Carl Everett in 1997, then dealt to the Reds for infielder Lenny Harris last July. Overall, Hudek is 10-13 with a 3.95 ERA in 174 major league games.
Reds manager Jack McKeon described Hudek as "streaky", saying, "He'd have three good outings and a couple of bad ones. Control has always been the factor with him. When he gets it over, he's tough."
Wohlers, once one of the game's most dominant closers, saw his career take a nosedive when he struggled with his control last season. His wildness prompted the Braves to place him on the disabled list last season because of an "inability to pitch" and eventually led to his trade.
Last week, faced with the prospect of returning to Class AAA Richmond, Wohlers chose to reject the assignment and start over with another team. He plans to meet with Reds general manager Jim Bowden today and will workout with pitching coach Don Gullet on Sunday, then report to Class AAA Indianapolis.
The Braves will pay all of Wohlers' $5.2 million salary and next year's $800,000 buyout, while the Reds will pay Hudek's $800,000 salary.
"I know a lot of people don't understand why I did this," Wohlers said. "I've heard some negative reactions and I can understand it. There's nothing I would have liked more than to have it work out in Atlanta.
"I want to thank the fans for all their support. I don't have the words to tell them how much it meant to me. I fell in love with the city of Atlanta and I still have lots of friends there."
Cather was 1-0 with a 10.13 ERA in four games, allowing five hits and three runs in 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander has been inconsistent with his breaking pitches and hasn't been locating his fastball well, which he needs to do to be successful. He's hopeful a stint at Richmond will help sharpen his pitches.
"It could be a blessing," Cather said. "I know I'm going to get innings in, so I've got to take advantage of the opportunity. Throwing in game situations is where you're going to get your stuff back."
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