Can Daniel Hudson Keep Improving?

Not only did Daniel Hudson have a fantastic 2011 season overall, but he also improved as the year went along, going 15-8 with a 3.15 ERA after a rough April. A big question for the Arizona Diamondbacks concerns whether Hudson can build upon that success or whether he will regress after a heavy 2011 workload.

Daniel Hudson had the stuff to go 16-12 with a 3.49 ERA in his first full season in a starting rotation for the Diamondbacks in 2011. The next step, he said, is a mental one. Hudson occasionally let a bad pitch turn into a bad inning, and he has vowed to change that.

"It's one thing to have competitive fire. That's who I am," Hudson explained.  "That's who I've been forever. It's another thing to let it hamper your progression. I wear everything on my sleeve. It's a good trait about me, and it's also a bad trait." 

Hudson was victimized by big innings, especially early in games. He gave up 22 runs in the first inning and 14 in the second last season, when opponents did a great majority of the damage.

"I wasn't able to move forward and get the next guy out," continued Hudson.   "I was worried about the pitch I just threw instead of worrying about the next pitch that I have to throw to get the next guy out. You work on it and you continue to get better. It's hard to do sometimes, but at the same time you have to do it in this game."

Hudson had looked strong in his last two exhibition games, with six 1-2-3 innings in his last seven after going four innings in a victory over the Chicago White Sox on March 16.

Manager Kirk Gibson said he has talked to Hudson the last two years about letting the last play go, and the message may be getting through.

"I know early in the year I would walk by in the dugout and he barely could hear you. He was really frustrated," Gibson said of Hudson. "He is a little more mature this year and probably is going to be much more composed in those situations."

"He's such a perfectionist that he gets frustrated with himself. I'm not asking him or anybody else not to get frustrated, because it can be good for you. (But) when you are frustrated, you just kind of lose your focus."

Hudson has fanned 10 batters while walking just one over his first three starts this spring.

SNAKE BYTES

--SS Stephen Drew all but said last week that he will not be ready for the start of the regular season. He has not played in a spring game, slid, or run strenuously in camp this spring. "For me, you have to run bases and you have to feel really comfortable doing those type of things, because at game speed it is fast. People don't realize it. It's one of those things that it would have to happen really fast, progress-wise, running and things like that, where I haven't even done it yet," Drew said. Drew suffered a fractured right ankle and ligament damage when his spikes caught as he slid on a play at the plate against Milwaukee on July 20.

--Newcomer RHP Trevor Cahill gave up five runs (three homers) in his first five spring innings, but the D-backs were less concerned about that than how to position themselves behind him. A groundball pitcher, the Angels got two singles threw the infield in a 3-0 victory March 13. "We want to find out what he likes to do so we can execute" defensively, manager Kirk Gibson said. "Where do we play the infield? What pitches should we call? What pitch can he get where we want it?"

--Nonroster IF/OF Infielder Rusty Ryal suffered what was initially thought be a torn left hamstring injury when he struck first base with a lunge while trying to beat out a ground ball to deep shortstop in the sixth inning of an exhibition game against the White Sox on Friday. "He said he heard something pop," manager Kirk Gibson said. "It could take a while. Ryal had missed several days earlier in camp with a groin strain.

DIAMOND STAT: 4 -- Salt River Fields record crowds the Diamondbacks have announced in their first eight exhibition games.

QUOTABLE: "If I didn't care about it, I wouldn't be going to run up and down Camelback (Mountain) in about 10 minutes. We know we can swing the bats. It's spring, but you want to get them going." -- Manager Kirk Gibson, during a stretch when the D-backs went 24 innings without scoring.


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