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Feeling good, Daniel Hudson just wants to return to the mound

LISTEN: Daniel Hudson, D-backs pitcher

His name is left out of pretty much all discussions pertaining to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation, which is something no one would have predicted just two years ago.

Daniel Hudson, a 16-game winner in 2011, was limited to just nine starts in 2012 before needing Tommy John Surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

And then, just as he was nearing a return the following season, he re-tore the UCL in a rehab start.

He hasn’t pitched since, and the D-backs — rightfully — have moved on, at least to an extent.

But Hudson presses on, continuing to rehab again in hopes of getting back on a major league mound.

“I feel great,” Hudson told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “The process is going awesome. Throwing program is going great. Arm feels awesome, and hopefully start taking a couple more baby steps here pretty soon.”

Hudson said the hope is he’ll be throwing off a pitching mound by the end of spring training, which could actually put him on track to pitch for the D-backs at some point this season.

But the 26-year-old has been down this road before, saying he felt great during his first rehab stint up until he re-injured the elbow.

So the physical part of his recovery is not the only part of his recovery.

“It’s going to be a mental hurdle I’m going to have to get over once I start really letting it go,” he said. “When I was first getting in game situations last year everything was fine, and all of a sudden it just gave out again.

“I’m sure that thought’s going to be in my mind, what’s different this time and is it going to happen again? So it’s just going to be something I have to work myself through, and hopefully I’ll be able to cross that bridge when I get there and hopefully that mental hurdle won’t be too hard to jump.”

As long as he gets over.

Because once he does, the D-backs will have an in-his-prime right-hander who at one point looked to be a key member of the team’s future. Though things have not gone according to plan, there is still time for Hudosn’s fortunes to turn around.

And he’s fine if his return does not include a spot in the starting rotation.

“At this point I don’t really care what role I have when I come back, whether it’s pitching mop up innings when a starter can’t get out of the third or fourth inning,” he said, adding that he’d hope it never comes to that (for the team’s sake, not his). “Whether it’s that role or whether I pitch in the seventh, eighth or ninth — whenever they need me — I really don’t care at this point.

“I can envision myself, for sure, pitching late in the game, but at this point I really don’t care what my role is when I get back.”

As long as he gets back.