By: Jim Marshall
When the AZ Diamondbacks expand their roster to 40 players on September 1st we might see a player who has not played in an MLB game since the early part of the 2012 season. It is possible that pitcher Daniel Hudson will be ready to rejoin the team. A return of Hudson would be a boost to a team that has struggled all season, both on and off the field.
Traded from the Chicago White Sox for Edwin Jackson in 2010, Hudson had all of the elements to be an ace, posting a 7-1 record and a 1.69 ERA with AZ that season. In 2011 he went 16-12 in 33 starts and posted a 3.49 ERA and won the 2011 Silver Slugger as the best hitter as a pitcher. In 2012 he started off at 3-2, but was placed on the DL after just nine starts due to an elbow injury. After having the injury examined, it was determined he tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). That resulted in Tommy John surgery.
He began the 2013 season on the 60-day DL still recovering from the surgery. Then, in a rehab start with the AA Mobile BayBears on June 4, 2013, Hudson re-tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). He underwent a second Tommy John surgery, which shut him down for the entire 2013 season. After the 2013 season he was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks, which resulted in him becoming a free agent. After receiving several offers from other teams Hudson announced he wanted to stay a Diamondback and on December 13, 2013 he signed a minor league deal to stay with the organization.
Since June of this year Hudson has been throwing off flat surfaces and has had several bullpen sessions. That led to his first rehab assignment on August 5th with the teams Arizona Rookie League affiliate. Hudson gave up one earned run on two hits on 17 pitches; with two strikeouts and no walks. His next outing he allowed no runs. He might have two more outings in the Arizona Rookie League before likely heading to AAA Reno.
Hudson used to throw a two-seam or four-seam fastball at speeds up to 95MPH, but those days are long gone. He will need to get a his command back and get a couple off-speed pitches working again, like a changeup and/or a slider, and he needs to prove he can get major league hitters out.
If Hudson gets the call up to the big league club the team will most likely limit him to one inning per game and look at his pitch count closely. Hopefully he gets into to at least six to eight games yet this season.
Although Hudson will probably never be a starter again, he is only 27 years old, and if he shows he can pitch in relief, he should be mentioned when the front office makes plans for spring training 2015 invitees.