Tim Hudson grew up a Braves fan in Phenix City, Ala., watched the vaunted staff of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz through his college years and now has a chance to join their elite company.
Hudson went for his 200th career win Friday night at PNC Park, a milestone that Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz all reached in a Braves uniform.
“It’d be nice to be thought of as one of the pitchers of the Atlanta Braves organization that people think of when they think of good pitching,” said Hudson, 37. “By no means am I trying to put myself in the category of those studs back in the ’90s, but this organization is always known for its rich pitching, and for me to have been here as long as I have, I’ve held my end of the bargain or they would have shipped me out a long time ago.”
Maddux won his 200th game at Turner Field against the Giants on Aug. 24, 1998, at age 32. Glavine reached 200 wins July 31, 2000, in a 6-3 win over the Astros at Turner Field. Smoltz got there May 24, 2007, in a 2-1 win over the Mets at Turner Field, by out-dueling none other than Glavine.
All three are Hall of Fame-bound — Maddux and Glavine with more than 300 wins and Smoltz as the first to record at least 200 wins and at least 150 saves. But the 200-win milestone was still special for them, as it will be for Hudson.
“I’m excited about it,” said Hudson, who’s 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts. “I’m just thrilled to have had the opportunity to play as long as I have. When I was in college or even when I first started playing in the big leagues, 200 wins seemed like forever away. Lot of things have to go right for you: health; you have to be on teams that win. I’ve been fortunate enough to have most of those go my way.”
Hudson has won 107 games in nine seasons with Atlanta — fifth in Atlanta history behind the Big Three and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro (266).
“I always wanted to play for Atlanta,” Hudson said. “Never thought it’d be during the prime years of my career.”
Eye on Avilan: Reliever Luis Avilan is making progress with his strained left hamstring, but still felt discomfort trying to run in the outfield Thursday and isn’t ready to pitch.
The Braves are trying to hold off putting him on the disabled list, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said if Avilan is not able to pitch by Sunday, the Braves will put him on the DL before heading to the light air of Colorado.
“We’re trying to be as patient as we can as long as he’s making progress,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t want to put him on the DL for 15 (days) and he could come back in seven or six. But come Monday, if he’s not progressing the way we want him to, we don’t want to go into Colorado with 11 (pitchers).”
Avilan suffered a strain and cramping going into his motion Tuesday night against the Royals. The Braves were lucky it wasn’t much more serious with the key left-handed set-up man.
“I feel better, (but I) have to wait a little bit more,” Avilan said.
Freeman rehab: Freddie Freeman felt good after taking ground balls and batting practice Thursday at Triple-A Gwinnett and headed with the team to Charlotte, N.C., where he plans to play in three rehabilitation games Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If all goes well with his oblique, he’ll rejoin the Braves in Colorado on Monday, the first day he’s eligible to come off the disabled list.
Lineup watch: Gonzalez decided not to play Evan Gattis at first base Thursday, electing to start Juan Francisco at third base and Chris Johnson at first. Facing three left-handers in four games this series, he didn’t want to sit Francisco three games. He planned to get Francisco in against rookie Jeff Locke on Thursday and let Gattis play first Friday against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
“I didn’t want to play Gattis two days in a row at first,” Gonzalez said. “So we picked the best left-hander that we felt Francisco could match up against and played him today.”
Gonzalez planned to use Gerald Laird at catcher the first two games of the series, Thursday with rookie Julio Teheran on the mound and Friday against Rodriguez. Laird is 4-for-7 with a double and an RBI against Rodriguez.