GLENDALE, Ariz. — Starter or reliever?
It’s been one of the more frequently asked questions this spring for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
To his credit, right-hander Daniel Hudson has said he’ll do what’s best for the team.
Out of baseball for most of the past three seasons because of successive Tommy John surgeries, Hudson has been assured of a spot on the 25-man roster.
It’s just a matter of in what role.
Does he resume his career as a starter, in which he’s 28-17 with a 3.66 ERA in 58 games, or perhaps pitch out of the bullpen, where he’s made just seven appearances, with three of them coming last September?
“It’s no big secret,” Hudson said, “I want to get back to being in the rotation at some point, whether that’s this year or next year, whenever it’s fine. I’m just happy to be back on the mound. Everything is feeling good, knock on wood. Just keep going from there and keep progressing like that.”
Monday, Hudson progressed to three innings in the D-backs’ 7-4 loss to the L.A. Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
Working around a hit-batter in the first and a leadoff single in the second, Hudson kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard in his first two innings of work. Then with one out in the third, center fielder Kike Hernandez singled, shortstop Jimmy Rollins tripled and first baseman Justin Turner hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 L.A.
“I felt good,” Hudson said after his longest outing of the spring in which he threw 49 pitches, 30 for strikes. “Felt good to get out there for that top of the third and everything was feeling great, arm wise. Good to go, so far.”
Hudson’s final line read: three innings pitched, three hits, two earned runs, one strikeout and a hit-batter.
“I thought he threw well,” first-year manager Chip Hale said. “He used a lot of his off-speed stuff today, which he was trying to work on.”
Hudson, who hasn’t started a major league game since walking off the mound in Atlanta June 26, 2012 after an 1.2 innings, figures to make two more Cactus League appearances. And for him, that’s plenty of time to get his pitch count up to be counted on as a starter this season.
“I’d like to be able to go out there (and throw) 85-90 pitches,” Hudson said, “but I think every day is going to be different based on how I feel. If I can get 75-80 through five or six (innings) sometimes, then it might be enough. Other times, I might try to stretch it to 90, so we’ll just kind of play it by ear and start-by-start.”
“If he feels like he wants to try to keep starting, we can get him to four innings next time,” he said. “I don’t know much past five innings and 85 pitches is probably what we’re looking at anyway. We’ll see what that number is. We have to limit the amount of pitches he throws per week and all that, try to keep him healthy this year.”