Hudson savors joining the 200-win club

The day after becoming only the third active pitcher with 200 wins, Tim Hudson needed no better reminder of how hard it is to get there than the ESPN broadcaster standing in a suit on the field during batting practice Wednesday - his former Oakland A’s teammate Mark Mulder.

Mulder was three shy of 100 wins at age 27 in 2005, but within three years he was out of the game with a shoulder injury. Barry Zito, the other stud in the west coast version of the “Big Three,” had some rough years in San Francisco, and is looking at an outside shot at 200 with 163 wins at age 35.

“I feel very lucky and blessed to be in a position to do it,” said Hudson, who joined Andy Pettitte (248) and Roy Halladay (201) in the 200 club. “Mark was better. He was the best pitcher I’d seen. I still say he’s one of the best I’ve seen. His career got cut short by an arm injury or he could be well past 200 by now if he’d have stayed healthy.”

Mulder watched the end of the game Tuesday at an Atlanta steakhouse shortly after his plane landed. He was one of “just about everybody I know” to leave Hudson messages, and he talked to him on the phone Wednesday morning.

“It was pretty cool to see,” Mulder said. “…This isn’t happening very often anymore. There are so many injuries pitchers are having that are derailing guys. Teams are so much more careful with young pitchers now they’re not getting as many decisions.”

Mulder said Hudson looks largely the same to him as he did in Oakland, just without as many split-finger pitches and not quite as much on his fastball.

“Everything still looks the same with the exception of the velocity being down a couple mph, but that’s going to happen,” Mulder said.

“That’s natural.”

What was unnatural about Tuesday night was watching Hudson hit a home run the night he won his 200th game. The only other pitcher to have homered the night he won his 200th (or 300th, or 400th for that matter) of the 110 who’ve done it was Cleveland’s Bob Lemon in 1956, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Hudson had to sign a bat and several other items to get the home run ball back from the fan in right field who caught it. He’ll have fun showing it to his 8-year-old son Kade, who went to bed after watching the game on TV in Auburn Tuesday night but was a happy kid seeing his father Wednesday morning.

“He’s fired up about me hitting,” Hudson said. “He doesn’t think I can hit. I still don’t know if he thinks I can hit. We’ll be out in the backyard playing ball, and he’ll go ‘I’m going to hit like you, Dad.’ He’ll act like he’s going to hit and then he’ll just bunt. He said ‘All you ever do is bunt.’ I was like wait a minute. You’ve got to look at my scrapbook, kid.”

The family scrapbook will have a few more pages now.