Hudson has first workout with Dodgers
Concern lingers about wrist injury, but he says he'll be ready Opening Day
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers were concerned enough about Orlando Hudson's health that most of the compensation in his new one-year contract is in the form of incentives he must earn by playing.
The rest of baseball was concerned enough about Hudson's health not to go even that far, leaving him unsigned when Spring Training camps opened.Hudson, though, said there's nothing to be concerned about. Even though he underwent two operations last August for a dislocated fracture of the wrist, he said "it's not an issue at all" as he dressed Sunday for his first workout as the Dodgers' new second baseman. He said he's sure he will be ready Opening Day. "It's still not 110 percent, but I can play with it every day," said the 31-year-old Hudson, who takes over for the retired Jeff Kent. "No limitations." Hudson then went out and participated in nearly a full workout, including infield drills. He tracked pitches without swinging when Tanyon Sturtze threw live batting practice, but he briefly took some swings off soft-toss and a pitching machine in the batting cage. He originally was said to be seeking a multiyear deal for at least $10 million annually, having reportedly rejected a multiyear offer from the Diamondbacks last year. But his uncertain health, as well as the crash of the free-agent market, allowed Hudson to fall into the Dodgers' lap. He slashed his asking price and signed Saturday for $3.38 million guaranteed and plate-appearance bonuses that could max-out his compensation at $8 million. Hudson allowed that the economy was a factor in his late signing, but primarily blamed the wrist injury for depressing his market. "It's definitely a bad economy right now. There's all the money in the world in sports, but the economy affects everything," he said. "I look forward to my man Obama, who was just here [in Arizona] to pick things up. "I've just got a bad wrist injury; we all know if not for the injury, it wouldn't have taken this long. It was just a nasty wrist injury. I wasn't worried, by no means. It took more time for my wrist to get better." Hudson was injured on a freak play that started when a line drive off the bat of Atlanta's Brian McCann was deflected by Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds, who retrieved the ball in shallow left field and threw to shortstop Stephen Drew, who was covering third. The ball skipped past Drew to pitcher Juan Cruz (backing up the play), who threw toward second as McCann rounded first. Cruz's off-target throw pulled Hudson into the runner and his glove jammed against McCann's stomach, bending his wrist forward. Hudson said the Dodgers were "not in the mix at the beginning of free agency," but that changed a month ago, leading to a workout on back-to-back days at Pepperdine University three weeks ago and another one last Sunday in Houston, where Hudson showed enough improvement to convince the Dodgers he was worth the risk. "We all look forward to him being ready Opening Day, but if that's not the case, we'll make sure he gets it well," said manager Joe Torre. "It was a major surgery. Offensively, I don't think it's an issue. But the middle infield requires turning the glove a number of different ways. He has no restrictions on what he can be doing." Outgoing and talkative, Hudson appeared immediately at home in the Dodgers clubhouse and familiar with most of the team, having played the last three years in the NL West with Arizona. Other than taking a phone call from Torre last week and text messages with some of his new teammates, Hudson said he left the business part to his agents. He was married in November and honeymooned in Africa, a trip he said had a profound effect on him. Hudson is active in community work, primarily through his C.A.T.C.H. (Curing Autism Through Change and Hope) Foundation, established last year to raise funds and make donations to help enable autistic children to live a normal life. He was drafted in the 43rd round out of Spartanburg Methodist College by Toronto, which traded him in 2005 to Arizona. Hudson is a three-time Gold Glove winner and was an All-Star in 2007, a season that ended with surgery for torn thumb ligaments. Hudson wore uniform No. 1 for the Diamondbacks, but that belonged to Dodgers Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese and was retired. Hudson took No. 30, which Casey Blake traded at the start of Spring Training for No. 23, which was previously worn by Derek Lowe.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.