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D-backs’ Daniel Hudson faces opposition for first time since surgery

It’s been almost 11 months since Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Daniel Hudson threw a pitch against a hitter from another team.

Hudson left a game last June 26 in Atlanta trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the second inning.

Soon after, he was diagnosed with a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and he underwent Tommy John surgery last July.

Friday, Hudson took the mound at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale and threw against hitters from a different team for the first time since the injury.

In four innings of work against the Los Angeles Angels extended spring training squad, Hudson threw 53 pitches, allowing five hits and two earned runs. The 26-year-old struck out one and induced nine groundouts.

“Felt good,” Hudson said Friday. “It was good to get back in a real game facing some different colored uniforms, so it felt good. It felt good to get the adrenaline going and the juices going.”

Up until Friday, Hudson had only faced Diamondbacks minor leaguers, meaning his mindset on the mound changed for the first time against the Angels.

“It was kind of a different mentality, like I don’t want to go inside as much to those guys because I don’t want to hit them — they’re out here every morning at six o’clock and they don’t want to get hit either, so I’m not even going inside,” Hudson said. “But I don’t feel so bad if I hit another team’s guys, so I was going inside a lot more. It was a lot better.”

Part of Hudson’s recovery is mental — putting the thought of his injury out of his mind.

“I’m not worried about it too much, obviously it’s in the back of my mind,” he said. “I imagine it’s just kind of a mental hurdle you’ve got to get through and hopefully next time it won’t be as in my mind as it was this time.”

Hudson was clocked in the low-90s Friday and says he’s “right on track” as far as the timetable the organization has for his return. He’s expected to be ready to go in the second half of the season, which means GM Kevin Towers and company will be faced with a decision on how to handle the starting rotation.

The pitchers at the back of the rotation would normally be the likely choices to be replaced when a veteran returns from injury. But Lefty Patrick Corbin, who won the fifth-starter spot in spring training, has been not only the D-backs’ most consistent pitcher, but also one of the best in the National League to this point. And fourth starter Wade Miley has the second-most wins on the team after a dazzling rookie season in 2012.

“It’s not like they’re going to do something with a guy who’s third in the Majors in ERA and they’re not going to send the Rookie of the Year down basically (Wade Miley) either, so it’s just one of those things where it will work itself out,” Hudson said. “They’ll find a spot for me and we’ll just go from there.”