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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – On an afternoon when Tim Hudson took another step toward his return from a grisly ankle injury, his thoughts were with a former teammate whose own comeback ended on the first day of spring training.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” said Hudson of former A’s teammate Mark Mulder, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in a conditioning drill while attempting to earn a place with the Los Angeles Angels.
[RELATED: Angels' Mark Mulder tears Achilles tendon]
“It makes me sick, knowing how hard he’s worked to get back,” said Hudson, who hadn’t spoken to Mulder but sent him a text message. “I hate it for him, but you know what? Very few people would even attempt to come back after five years away from the game. That tells you what kind of athlete he is.”
Hudson’s own comeback appears to be going well in the early stages. He joined the group of pitchers who threw off bullpen mounds on Sunday, working for the first time with catcher Buster Posey. He didn’t appear to favor the ankle during the 8-minute session.
“Yep, smooth and easy,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The same delivery I’ve seen over the years. He hasn’t changed anything as far as I can see.”
Hudson, who fractured his ankle while covering first base in July, told Bochy he still feels something when he goes to his right. But the injury doesn’t enter his mind on the mound, saying “that just reinforces the notion that I’m on my way to being where I want to be.”
Hudson said he chatted with Posey in the weight room about pitching philosophy and enjoyed the experience of throwing to him for the first time. It sounds like Posey was nice enough to not bring up Florida State’s victory over Auburn in the BCS Championship, too.
“He’s a pro,” Hudson said. “He’s one of the best back there, both offensively and defensively. He’s the total package. He’s going to be fun to work with.”
Bochy confirmed the Giants definitely will have a long man in the bullpen. There are a few candidates in camp including new lefty David Huff, but Yusmeiro Petit is out of minor league options and Bochy said he plans to put a lot of stock in how the right-hander fared down the stretch.
“His stuff was crisper,” Bochy said of Petit, who came within one out of a perfect game last year. “He had a better breaking ball, his changeup was really good. To have those types of games, you don’t do that by luck.”
Even if Petit struggles this spring, it sounds like he’ll get the benefit of the doubt.
“He’s not a guy who lights up radar guns,” Bochy said. “This may not be the best place for a pitcher of his type, with the light air.”
Even in a group with Tim Lincecum and top pick Kyle Crick, it was hard to take my eyes off right-hander Derek Law. You’ve probably heard about him by now. He dominated the Arizona Fall League (perfect ERA in nine appearances) and he had a downright stupid 45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 appearances for Single-A San Jose last year.
Law throws a running fastball and a power curve from a unique delivery in which he turns his back to the hitter.
Bochy said left-hander Mike Kickham would continue to be stretched out as a starter, but the front office has talked about a future relief role. As you might remember, Kickham really struggled in the big leagues last season but had several 1-2-3 first innings in starts that went south after that.