Quiet, taciturn, private.
Unassuming to fault, perhaps.
If Daniel Hudson was having a good day, no one would know. If Daniel Hudson was having a bad day, no one would know. His quiet disposition also worked to a disadvantage, because doctors and the Diamondbacks medical staff had some difficulty reading his mind and getting an accurate perspective on his difficult recovery.
Yet, during a grueling, two year recovery period from two Tommy John surgeries on his injured right elbow. Hudson became a realist. Sure, a fierce competitive power still drives him to the pitching mound, and a determined will and motivation remain clearly admirable.
Yet, Hudson ventured into territory no major league baseball player traveled.
Many pitchers recovered from a single Tommy John surgery and returned to competition. For Hudson, he underwent two procedures and no pitcher had returned to a high, competitive level, let alone in the major leagues, after two surgeries. His attempt to regain a strong spirited edge remains the cornerstone of a rather remarkable comeback for a player destined, at one time, to experience a short, major league career.
At this point, Hudson, a former standout pitcher at Old Dominion University, takes no credit in being “the poster child” for such a spirited recovery, and offers no claim for conquering an arduous and demanding path.
Still, he emerged from the pages of sports medicine journals and scholarly papers on recovery to mount a comeback which is as envious as it is compelling.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said just before the Diamondbacks left on their current road trip. “Look, it is what it is. I’m not apprehensive right now, and not thinking about the past. I’m here to go out and try to help my team win.”
In the recent past, Hudson was instrumental in helping the Diamondbacks capture the 2011 National League West Division title. Along with Ian Kennedy, who went 21-4 that year, Hudson recorded a 16-12 season with a 3.49 ERA in 33 starts. He also won the National League Silver Slugger Award as the best hitter at his position. For that championship season, Hudson batted .277 with one home run and 14 RBIs.
Suffering the first of two surgeries in June, 2012, he missed the nearly the entire 2013 season in an attempt to pitch again competitively. On June 18, 2013, he underwent a second procedure and that kept him out until September 3, 2014, when he walked on a major league mound at San Diego for the first time since his second procedure.
Overall, he appeared in three games at the end of last season, and was shut down with two weeks remaining in the season. Continuing his rehab over this past off-season, he arrived at Salt River determined to gain a roster spot.
During spring training, Hudson repeatedly said he didn’t care if he made the roster as a starter or a reliever. Making the 25-man roster which broke from spring training was his ultimate objective.
Though a starter when he went down for the first time in 2012, Hudson’s endurance remains the biggest factor as to his role. There is no secret Hudson cannot throw the required 90 to 110 pitches as a starter, so manager Chip Hale identified Hudson as “a bridge reliever.”
That means any bridge reliever currently on the team, Andrew Chafin, Randall Delgado, Hudson and now Vidal Nuno, recalled from Triple-A May 26, can pitch anywhere from one batter to two or three innings. So far, Hudson has not pitched more than two innings in any one game, and remains under careful watch.
For the first time this season, Hudson pitched in back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday against the Cubs at home. Afterward, Hale plotted the course.
“(Hudson) is a great kid with great character,” said the manager. “He doesn’t say a whole lot, so we watch him a little more carefully. For the rest of the season, we’ll use him as we have for the first two months and monitor his off-season work. Can he come to camp next spring and compete as a starter? At this point, we don’t know, but keeping him healthy is our main goal.”
For now, Hudson goes about his business without fear or trepidation. If that was the case, he pointed out, he would have been out of baseball some time ago.
Third baseman Yasmany Tomas established a club record for most hits in a month by a rookie.
With a 2-for-5 and three RBI night Tuesday against the Cardinals, Tomas now has 29 hits in the month of May to go along with a .349 batting average. That snapped a tie at 27 hits he shared with Didi Gregorius (in 2013).
Before their Tuesday game in St. Louis, the Diamondbacks placed right-handed pitcher Enrique Burgos on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, and recalled left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuño from Triple-A Reno,
Burgos, at 24 years-old, recorded 25 strikeouts in 13 relief appearances (13.2 IP) for Arizona. That led Major League relievers with a 16.46 strikeouts-per-9.0-innings ratio. He recorded his first career save on May 18 at Miami and was the first Diamondbacks’ rookie to save consecutive games (May 18-19 at Miami) since Juan (now J.C.) Gutierrez on Sept. 26-27, 2009 against the Padres. In 13 appearances, Burgos was 0-2 with a 4.61 ERA (7 ER in 13.2 IP) and a .235 opponents average.