Originally created 05/26/05

Hudson is now up to speed



ATLANTA - Atlanta Braves catcher Johnny Estrada and manager Bobby Cox marveled at Tim Hudson's early-inning velocity in his victory Tuesday.

So did Hudson.

Hudson, now 5-3 with a 3.05 ERA after eight shutout innings against New York, said decreasing speed on his fastball has been a fairly big concern.

He said Tuesday, in some ways, he felt like his old self.

"It definitely felt like I didn't have to work for that 91, 92 (mph) as hard as I did in other starts," said Hudson, whose signature pitch is a fastball with downward sink. "The harder you work, the more your location's off."

With that in mind, after his recent start in Boston, Hudson altered his workout schedule a bit. For one thing, he's reincorporated long-tossing in the outfield, which he'd abandoned after coming over from Oakland.

"Some organizations like doing it, some don't like doing it," Hudson said. "Nobody did it, and I thought, 'The pitchers here are pretty good. Maybe I don't need it.'

"I tried the philosophy of not doing it, but my body just didn't respond. So I decided to give it a whirl again."

He's not saying the arm-strengthening drill is the cure-all for whatever little things were off. But Tuesday, he said, was certainly a step in the right direction.

After running his pitch count high in the early going, Hudson settled to make one of his deepest starts of the year.

"I don't think it's coincidence that my velocity's getting back a little better," Hudson said. "I just got tired of looking up and seeing a lot of 86s and 87s on the radar gun. When I normally put that kind of effort in, it's 91 or 92."

Hudson's hopeful that Tuesday's build-as-you-go outing will be the start of a positive "snowball" toward the groove he's been talking about finding for a few starts now.

"It was nothing major wrong," he said. "There was just something missing. Maybe this is it."

BREAKING OUT: Ryan Langerhans was hitless in his previous 20 at-bats before his RBI single in the fifth inning of Tuesday's 4-0 victory.

The run was the Braves' first of the game against Tom Glavine, who had been tough on his former team up to that point.

"It was nice to finally get a hit, especially in that situation," said Langerhans, whose batting average had gone down to .179 before the hit.

Reach Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.