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Hudson happy to see, and not face, Braves

Righty returns to Atlanta after signing two-year deal with Giants in offseason

ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson fully appreciates the opportunity to be back home, where he can spend time with his family and catch up with his former Braves teammates. But he does not regret the fact that he won't be making a start while he and his Giants teammates spend this weekend at Turner Field.

"I'm kind of glad I'm not pitching here," Hudson said. "It would be a little weird. It would be kind of odd. It's kind of nice to be able to come here and just enjoy it."

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Because the Giants did not play on Thursday, Hudson was able to spend the entire day with his wife and three children at their Auburn, Ala., home. The veteran pitcher made the 90-minute drive to Atlanta on Friday to catch up with some of the Braves who served as his teammates until his nine-season tenure in Atlanta ended last year.

"I keep up with these guys over here," Hudson said. "I've watched the box scores and I keep up with them almost every game. I can't say that I don't pull for them because I do, except for this weekend."

The Braves showed some interest in bringing Hudson back this past offseason. But from a financial standpoint, that interest did not come close to superseding that shown by the Giants, who lured the 38-year-old right-hander to the West Coast with a two-year, $23 million offer.

Most of the Braves' hesitance toward making a similar commitment was rooted in the fact that Hudson had suffered a horrific right ankle fracture in July and was not scheduled to begin throwing off a mound until late November -- at least a week after the Giants signed him.

"Obviously there were a lot of question marks coming into this offseason from a physical standpoint," Hudson said. "Honestly I really didn't know what was going to happen until the process started happening."

As he has done dating back to when he did not receive any offers to play college ball out of high school, Hudson has spent the past few weeks proving his doubters wrong. After finishing one out shy of a complete game against the Padres on Wednesday night, he found himself with a 4-1 record and a 2.17 ERA through his first six starts of this season.

"I've had to prove myself everywhere," Hudson said. "I think that is just one of those things that makes me tick. When somebody doubts something I can do, it just gives me a little extra drive to prove that I can.

"I'm really happy with how the first month has gone. It's a long year. Coming into Spring Training, I just felt like I had a lot to prove. Obviously the season has gotten off to a really good start. I'm starting to feel really good physically. I couldn't ask to a better start to the year. Hopefully, I can just keep it up."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is not surprised that Hudson has overcome the odds that were set against him when his right ankle was crushed by Eric Young Jr. as the Mets' outfielder ran through the first-base bag on July 24 at Citi Field.

"Nothing surprises me," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a competitor -- one of the best ones I've ever been around. He could go out there with half a leg and put up the numbers he can put up right now, and it wouldn't surprise me. He'd be one of the first pitchers that would have a prosthetic or something and pitch and win because he competes. He's got a big heart, and nothing that he does will surprise me."

Hudson went 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA and made 243 starts during his career with the Braves. The only four pitchers in Atlanta history with more wins and starts are Phil Niekro, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.

That's a pretty cool honor for a guy who grew up approximately a couple hours south of Atlanta idolizing Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz.

"When I retire, I'll probably be up there in those stands pulling for the Braves just like I did when I was a kid," Hudson said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for

Atlanta Braves, Tim Hudson