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Hudson sharp in Braves' first spring win
Atlanta Braves right fielder Justin Heyward catches a ball hit New York Mets batter Fernando Tatis for an out during the second inning Wednesday in Kissimmee, Fla. - photo by Rob Carr

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Tim Hudson wasn’t taking his first start of the spring too seriously.

Hudson allowed only two hits over two shutout innings, facing the minimum six batters in a 9-5 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday, and said he can’t wait to take the mound again.

“It would be an awesome thing if it were in July,” Hudson said. “This is just the beginning. I felt good and can’t wait for the next chance.”

Hudson missed most of the 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He didn’t pitch until September last season when the Braves were out of the playoff hunt.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said he didn’t notice any drop-off at all from a pitcher who won 27 games from 2007-08.

“He was in the strike zone all day long,” Cox said. “It’s like we expect him to be. He reminds me a little of Greg Maddux. He’d throw eight pitches in an inning and then go to the bullpen for more work. Huddy threw so many strikes. We had him pitching for two innings so he had to go to the bullpen to throw some more just like Maddux.”

Despite being considered the ace of the Braves’ staff, Hudson said he’s ambivalent about starting on Opening Day. He’s part of a five man staff including Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Kenshin Kawakami, all of whom wouldn’t mind the honor.
Hudson said he could do without being the ace.

“If I got it, it would be great, but that means I would be facing everyone else’s number one.” Hudson said. “Do I really want to face Johan Santana and Roy Halladay? Wherever they put me is fine. We have five guys who can start on Opening Day.”

Hudson wasn’t the only pitcher who turned Cox’s head. While the Braves are loaded with starting pitching, the back end of the bullpen is up for grabs. Jeff Lyman and Mike Minor each pitched an inning without a baserunner, and Cox said they are in the running for one of the set-up jobs for new closer Billy Wagner.

“They threw strikes,” Cox said. “Minor reminds me a little of Tommy Hanson. Both of them were in the zone.”

Mets starter Pat Misch went three innings and allowed a hit and walked two. He thinks he has a good chance at finding a spot at the back end of the Mets’ rotation.

“I am anxious, but I have a chance if I just stay within myself,” Misch said. “I felt good, but it’s early and there’s a long way to go.”

Misch and Eric Niesen combined for five scoreless innings before the Braves responded with a four-run sixth. Misch, who is out of options and would need to clear waivers to be sent to Triple-A Buffalo.

Misch said he wasn’t even thinking about Buffalo.

“I think I have a good opportunity to make the starting rotation,” Misch said, adding that he wouldn’t mind a stint in the bullpen. “I think that’s where I can help the team. If that doesn’t work out, I mean, there’s a lot of great guys, but I’ve also pitched out of the pen before.”

The Mets broke open a scoreless game in the fifth, but the Braves rallied from a 4-0 deficit with four runs in the sixth and five more in the seventh. Yunel Escobar and Brandon Hicks had two RBI for the Braves.

Mike Cervenak knocked in two runs for the Mets.

NOTES: Rookie Jason Heyward had a double in the sixth inning that Cox said was one of the hardest-hit balls he’s ever seen. Heyward is batting .667 and Cox said that he’s certainly going to see time in right field. ... Former Braves slugger Dale Murphy took out the lineup card. He’s one of several former Braves who have been invited to join spring training activities. ... Kawakami will start against the Pirates on Thursday, followed by Jo-Jo Reyes, Lee Hyde, Erik Cordier, and Juan Abreau. ... The Braves agreed to one-year deals with Jurrjens, Kris Medlen, Luis Valdez, Mike Dunn, Lee Hyde, Eric O’Flaherty, Jose Ortegano, Brooks Conrad, Diory Hernandez, Marvin Prado, and Jordan Shafer. They also renewed the contracts of Hanson and Escobar. ... The Mets will host the Cardinals in Port St. Lucie Thursday. R.A. Dickey, Tobi Stoner, Clint Everts, Sean Green, Jack Egbert, and Jenrry Mejia will pitch for the Mets.

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