The road back is arduous and cumbersome and Diamondbacks’ right-hander Daniel Hudson is not the first to experience this challenging journey.
While several pundits targeted Hudson with a break-out season this past spring, the 25 year-old out of Virginia Beach, Va. did not survive the opening month of the season. Placed on the Disabled List as early as April 19, Hudson came off on May 3 and then has been permanently out since June 27.
On July 9, he underwent successful Tommy John surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and can be shut down for a year. To that end, Hudson hopes the timetable is quicker.
“If everything goes right, I hope to back some in mid June,” he said the other day in the Diamondbacks clubhouse. “As far as the rehab is concerned, there’s really nothing new to report.”
In an encouraging sign, Hudson reported he has regained a full range of motion in his right arm, and with no pain.
At this point, the Diamondbacks’ medical schedule is measured and careful. Hudson is expected to start lobbing a tennis ball in the next months, and see how he feels. Beyond that, there is not time table when he will pick up a baseball.
The usual barometer is one year from the time of surgery until the first pitch is competitively thrown.
Hudson can look no further than right-hander Jordan Zimmerman and right-hander Stephen Strasburg, two mainstays of the Washington Nationals. Both underwent success Tommy John surgery and each made a significant contribution to the Nationals rise atop the baseball world this season.
“It’s really frustrating to be in the clubhouse and not able to contribute,” Hudson said. “In fact, it sucks. When they’re on the road, the only thing I can do is watch the games on TV, and that’s terrible.”
When he went down, Hudson’s numbers were telling.
Together with right-hander Ian Kennedy as part of the Diamondbacks competent one-two punch, Hudson was off to a less than productive start. By the time he permanently reached the DL, Hudson was 3-2 in nine starts with a 7.35 ERA. Last season, he went 16-12 in 222 innings of work and a 3.49 ERA.
Counted to challenge Kennedy as the number one starter, Hudson’s absence from the rotation is considered an important factor why the Diamondbacks slipped his season in the National League West standings.
Overall, Hudson appears on his way back, and remains true to a prescribed rehab program.
”He remains diligent in his desire to get back,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “At this point, he’ll pick up a tennis ball in the next few months, but everything seems to be fine.”
When the season ends next week, Hudson will continue his rehab at the D-backs’ spring training facility at Salt River.
SOME FINAL NUMBERS
With league championships at AAA Reno, AA Mobile and rookie Missoula, the Diamondbacks minor league system achieved in override this past season.
The top three hitters among all minor leagues were promoted to the major league team, and despite losing these significant contributors, the Reno Aces topped Pawtucket in the AAA National Championship Game to claim the overall title.
The three whom the Diamondbacks called up includes outfielder Adam Eaton (.375 at Reno), and infielders Ryan Wheeler (.351, 90 RBIs in 93 games at Reno) and infielder Jake Elmore (.344 at Reno).
If the D-backs are looking for some power, first baseman Jonathan Griffin, at 6-7, 250 pounds, displayed some pop. He hit 26 homers in High A Visalia and then two more at AA Mobile. Combined, he also drove in an organization-high 102 runs.
Right-handers Trevor Bauer (the number three pick overall in 2011) and Archie Bradley (the number seven pick overall last season), each recorded 12 wins to tie for most victories in the organization. Bauer’s 157 strikeouts was an organization best, while closer Jonathan Albaladejo, who appeared in three games earlier this season with the D-backs, topped the organization with 25 saves.