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Hudson could be done for the year


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Elbow injury could end Hudson's season

MRI reveals bad news for No. 1 starter

By DAVID O'BRIEN

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 07/28/08

Pitcher Tim Hudson has a potentially severe elbow injury, the latest blow in a nightmarish season that can't end soon enough for the Braves.

"It's in the ligament area [and] it's more than inflammation," Braves general manager Frank Wren said during a hastily called press conference in the fifth inning of Monday night's 12-3 loss to St. Louis at Turner Field.

An MRI done Monday afternoon showed damage in the ulnar collateral ligament area of the elbow, though Hudson and Wren said it wasn't known if he has a torn ligament that would require season-ending "Tommy John" ligament-transplant surgery.

"That's the obvious procedure that's going to fix any kind of ligament damage," Hudson said. "I don't know how severe it is, if rehab [alone] might fix it."

Hudson will meet Wednesday with Braves orthopedist Xavier Duralde, who's out of town until Tuesday night. Then the pitcher will travel to Birmingham to see famed orthopedic surgeon James Andrews.

After Monday's game, Hudson still seemed to be in almost a state of disbelief over the news.

"I was floored," he said. "I thought they were almost kidding with me. ... It feels fine, that's what's frustrating. Nothing really hurts."

Hudson said he got the test done only because he was going to be on the disabled list for 15 days anyway, and the Braves figured he might as well get the sophisticated dye-injection form of MRI.

"I'm starting to wonder if it's been like this for three or four years, and is just something I learned to deal with," said Hudson, who left his Wednesday start at Florida after six scoreless innings when tightness in his right forearm moved toward his elbow.

The 33-year-old didn't think it was anything serious, though he still had some minor discomfort when he threw Sunday at Philadelphia.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said Hudson was placed on the DL earlier Monday for precautionary reasons, indicating there was no reason to risk further injury when the Braves had fallen so far back in the standings. But that was before the Braves saw MRI results from the 4 p.m. exam.

Hudson is 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA in a staff-leading 142 innings, and has a 146-77 career record in 10 seasons with Oakland and Atlanta.

The Alabama native is in the third year of a four-year, $47-million contract extension he signed after being traded from Oakland following the 2004 season. He is scheduled to make $13 million in 2009, with a $12 million option for 2010 that's mutual and includes a $1 million buyout.

Wren said he was told by doctors that the MRI revealed what was believed to be some old and some recent damage in the elbow. He said there had not been warning signs before Wednesday's start.

"I think everybody was a little surprised there was something [injured in the elbow]," Wren said.

Hudson is the fourth member of the Braves' season-opening rotation to land on the DL, after John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton. Rookie Jair Jurrjens missed a start with a sprained ankle.

Smoltz had season-ending shoulder surgery, and Glavine is trying to come back from a partially torn flexor tendon near his pitching elbow.

"We've had more than our share [of injuries], that's for sure," said Wren forced a smile and added, "Could throw a yellow flag for piling on."

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