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Hudson hoping for a miracle

POSTED: August 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA — Tim Hudson could see the damage himself on the MRI. One ligament in his right elbow appears partially torn. Another seems totally ripped apart.

Still, the Atlanta Braves pitcher is clinging to the slimmest of hopes that he might be able to avoid Tommy John surgery.

Hudson has been getting treatment and will attempt to throw this weekend, even though at least two doctors have determined he needs ligament replacement surgery. The recovery period for such an operation is generally about a year, which means the pitcher would miss good chunk of next season as well.

"Surgery is always the last option," Hudson said before Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. "I want to try to figure out what I need to do. There might be some kind of miracle, a glimmer of hope. What if I go out there to throw and don't feel anything for whatever reason? If that's the case, I wouldn't have the surgery."

He knows the likelihood of that happening is virtually nil.

Hudson was examined by the Braves' lead doctor and got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. Both agreed he needs the Tommy John procedure.

"If you just look at the MRI, the writing's on the wall," Hudson said.

The Braves have endured a devastating rash of injuries this season, especially to the pitching staff.
Of their projected starters, John Smoltz is out for the year, Tom Glavine has spent a major portion of the season on the disabled list and Mike Hampton finally made his first start last weekend after numerous setbacks in his comeback from two major operations. In addition, reliever Peter Moylan had season-ending elbow surgery, the same procedure that Hudson now faces.

"It's tough. We've been having to piece things together all year," Hudson said. "This is just another blow to us. Nobody expected it to happen. I certainly didn't expect it. It's just been tough to deal with."
Hudson still has trouble believing his elbow is in such bad shape, which may explain why he's reticent about having surgery.

"Honestly, it doesn't look good," he said. "Still, when I do everyday stuff, it doesn't really bother me. The MRI says one thing, but I don't feel totally horrible as far as my arm goes."

Hudson said his elbow never bothered him until he started at Florida last week.

"I threw a pitch and it kind of felt weird," he said. "I just kept on pitching and it started getting gradually worse. Instead of just hurting on my split-finger, I started to feel it on my cutters and fastball."

Even so, he thought it was just a strained muscle or some other minor ailment. When Hudson tried to throw on the side, the pain persisted. Finally, he underwent an MRI exam on Monday that showed the extent of the damage.

"It's just kind of weird," Hudson said. "I can do everyday, normal stuff. I can pick up suitcases, pick up all kinds of stuff and it doesn't really bother me."

NO MORE TRADES: After dealing away slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira 48 hours ahead of the trade deadline, the Braves made no further deals before Thursday's 4 p.m. cutoff.
Left-handed pitcher Will Ohman was among those who thought he had a chance to get traded before the deadline for non-waiver deals.

"I wouldn't say I was worried. There was some anxiousness that just goes with the unknown," Ohman said, sitting at his locker after getting word he was staying in Atlanta. "Whenever you're dealing with a move that's not only about yourself, but talking about your kids and family, that takes a toll on you, too. I'm not taking care of just me. I'm taking care of a wife and two kids."

Ohman planned to call his spouse right away.

"She will be at the very least relieved," he said.

The Braves made their big move on Tuesday, sending Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels for first baseman Casey Kotchman and a minor-league pitcher. They found no other deals to their liking as they look to rebuild for 2009 after giving up on the idea of contending this season.

"I know they were trying real hard," manager Bobby Cox said.



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