Tim Hudson was bumped from his scheduled Friday start against the Phillies, but not because the Braves were trying to trade him.
Hudson’s had nagging neck stiffness for more than a month, and the 37-year-old pitcher and the Braves agreed it made sense to give him extra rest by switching turns with Paul Maholm, who was scheduled to start Saturday.
The decision was made at least two days ago — in time for Hudson and Maholm to reschedule between-starts throwing sessions — but the Braves didn’t announce the change until about four hours before Friday night’s game.
“This time of year, get a little extra day here and there, it’s not a big deal,” Hudson said. “I mean, it’s only a good thing. I’ve had a little neck thing going on, but it’s not that big a deal. Just kind of getting some treatment on it. It was an opportunity to get a couple of extra days, so, take advantage of it whenever you can.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves told the Phillies late Thursday that Maholm would start Friday’s series opener.
“We’ve known for about a couple of days, so it was an easy decision,” Gonzalez said. “Pauly falls into his normal day, and we move (Hudson) back another day. That’s it. Nothing more to that.”
Not long after the Braves announced the change, baseball writer Peter Gammons posted on Twitter that Hudson “has let some former teammates know he thinks he could get dealt.”
Hudson said of that rumor: “I have no idea what he’s talking about. I haven’t said anything to anybody about getting dealt. I have no idea what he’s referring to.”
Hudson (4-7) is 0-6 with a 4.50 ERA in his past 10 starts, the longest winless period of his career. He went 0-3 despite a solid 2.45 ERA in six June starts, but the Braves scored an average of 1.56 runs per nine innings he pitched during the month, including no runs while he was in three games.
Hudson will pitch on two more days of rest than usual since his start Saturday against Arizona, when he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings and blew a pair of two-run leads. He was upset that he wasn’t allowed to try to finish the sixth inning.
He said the neck had prevented him from doing upper-body workouts, but he didn’t think it hindered him in games.
Ayala replaces Gearrin: Ten weeks after he was briefly hospitalized for anxiety disorder related to a high-blood-pressure diagnosis, veteran reliever Luis Ayala rejoined the Braves on Friday.
“Finally I can say I’m healthy,” said Ayala, 38, who was activated from the disabled list and brought from Triple-A Gwinnett after the Braves optioned struggling reliever Cory Gearrin to Gwinnett.
The Braves want to trade for at least one veteran reliever before the July 31 trade deadline and want to see how effective Ayala can be before determining needs.
Ayala said he was worried when he was hospitalized in Denver after feeling shaky during a game April 24. The right-hander had been told he had high blood pressure and was soon diagnosed with anxiety disorder. He said doctors later told him he had a bacterial infection near his stomach, which he said was why he lost eight pounds.
“At the beginning they just say anxiety disorder, but they didn’t know yet,” he said. “They found the bacteria. I was so weak. I didn’t feel any energy when I’d wake up. I finally (got healthy) taking the pills and then a good rehab. Now I come to the field with a lot of energy. I’m so happy because when I was sick, you’ve got bad things on your mind.”
In Gearrin’s past 11 appearances, the rookie had a 9.90 ERA and .366 opponents’ average, allowing 15 hits, 11 runs and 10 walks with eight strikeouts in 10 innings.
Gattis update: Slugger Evan Gattis, who is on the disabled list, ramped up his rehab activities Friday, taking more swings at balls off a tee and throwing for the first time since straining his right oblique 2 1/2 weeks ago. Gattis also ran some during his afternoon workout on the field, before the Braves took batting practice.
“Felt good,” he said. “More swings, with more intensity. It’s getting there. It’s more progress, slowly but surely.”
There is no timetable for Gattis’ return, but he will need at least a brief rehab assignment before he comes off the DL.