LAKELAND, Fla. — In his last outing before his opening-day start against Philadelphia, Tim Hudson pitched four innings in a tune-up against Detroit, allowing four hits and one run with two walks and one strikeout in a 6-5 Braves win on a blustery, unseasonably chilly Florida afternoon.
“Conditions weren’t ideal, but April is probably going to be a lot like that at the places we’re going to be playing in,” Hudson said. “I’ve got a few things I want to iron out, small things in my delivery. But for the most part, I feel like everything’s in line to be where I want to be for the start of the season.”
Hudson said his sinker wasn’t as effective as it had been in his previous outing, when he pitched six scoreless innings of six-hit ball with no walks against the Nationals. He issued consecutive one-out walks in the second inning to Don Kelly and Jhonny Peralta before getting two groundouts.
The Tigers scored a run in the third on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly after consecutive singles by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter.
“Today could have gone better,” Hudson said. “On a day like today, the pitcher’s probably the least comfortable guy on the field. So to just give up one run against that lineup, I’m OK with it…. That one inning I had those back-to-back walks. Other than that I was OK with it.”
Kelly went 4-for-4 with a walk and a home run. He took Jonny Venters deep to start the sixth inning, and four batters later Venters left the game with what the Braves preliminarily diagnosed as a sprained left elbow.
Walden impressive: After Jordan Walden gave up a one-out single, a walk and a wild pitch to put runners on the corners in the fifth inning, the reliever struck out Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. It was his third appearance in seven days, after getting an epidural injection for a bulging disc.
Laird returns vs. former team: Playing for the first time since March 17, Braves catcher Gerald Laird went 1-for-2 with an RBI single in the fifth inning against his former team.
Laird strained his left calf early in camp and has played only 11 games as the Braves decided to be cautious to prevent the strain from becoming a DL-type injury, since he was expected to be the primary catcher for the first several weeks of the season until Brian McCann returns. Evan Gattis could end up sharing duties with Laird if Gattis is named the backup catcher to begin the season.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Laird got through his five innings of work Tuesday without difficulty and was scheduled to start again Wednesday against the Nationals. It would be just his second back-to-back games of the spring and first since March 12-13.
Etc. Third baseman Juan Francisco continued his strong spring with a double and his sixth home run, a ninth-inning solo shot off ex-Brave Oscar Villareal to snap a 5-all tie. He’s second on the team in homers, one behind Freddie Freeman….
McCann, in his first game action since October shoulder surgery, had a sacrifice fly and a fly-out in two plate appearances in a minor league game. He’s permitted only to hit, not catch or run the bases, until April 16, the six-month mark after surgery. McCann will likely be on the DL until at least late April….
Infielder Paul Janish, also recovering from shoulder surgery, had a double and groundout in 2 at-bats in a minor league game. He had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in October and is expected to be ready to play before McCann. Janish will play shortstop at Triple-A Gwinnett once he’s ready….
On Wednesday, the Braves play the Nationals in Viera for the second time in four days. Minor league lefty Daniel Rodriguez will start for Atlanta against Washington lefty Ross Detwiler in the 1:05 p.m. game.