LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Tim Hudson is ready to start on opening day for the Atlanta Braves.
Hudson made his final start of spring training in a 6-5 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. Hudson allowed one earned run in four innings.
It will be his third opening day start for Atlanta. The Braves open at home on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves’ staff had a bit of a setback when Jonny Venters pulled himself from the game in the sixth inning with what was called a sprained left elbow.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Venters, who pitched in 66 games last season as a set-up man, is considered day to day.
Hudson ended the spring with a 3.90 ERA, but said he feels fine and is excited about the new-look Braves offense that features B.J. Upton and Justin Upton.
Hudson is also looking forward to knowing that the speedy Upton brothers, along with Jason Heyward should be able to track down plenty of fly balls.
“I feel fine and I have been progressing since the first day,” said Hudson, who was 16-7 with a 3.62 ERA for the Braves last season. “I could still be better, but I made some good pitches today and I am right on track.”
With the new bats in the Braves’ lineup, and the addition of All-Star catcher Brian McCann after he recovers from right shoulder surgery, Hudson said he won’t have to worry about run support.
“We’re going to be tough to beat this year,” Hudson said. “This team is going to put up a lot of runs.”
“We are going to be tough from the top to the bottom of the order,” Hudson said. “You might even see a lot of production from the nine slot.”
Gonzalez has no doubts about Hudson and start of the regular season.
“Hudson is fine,” Gonzalez said. “He’s ready and he’s as ready as he needs to be. He’s fine and ready for opening day.”
Shawn Hill started for Detroit and allowed two runs in five innings and was sent to Triple-A Toledo after the game.
The Tigers said before to the game that Rick Porcello captured the final spot in the Tigers’ rotation and that Drew Smyly would start the season in the bullpen.
Both had rocky stretches this spring, but Leyland said Porcello earned the spot at the back of the rotation. Leyland also announced that versatile infielder/outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo earned a spot.
A right-handed hitter, he will split time with Andy Dirks, and possibly, Quintin Berry in left field.
The Braves scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning on a home run by Juan Francisco off Brayan Villarreal. Ramiro Pena also homered for the Braves and Matt Pagnozzi had two hits.
Don Kelly went 4 for 4 with two doubles and a homer for the Tigers and Torii Hunter had a pair of hits.
NOTES: The Braves’ Daniel Rodriguez will make his first start of the spring on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals. Ross Detwiler will start for Washington. … RHP Cory Gearrin pitched two scoreless innings to lower his spring ERA to 1.64. He has pitched in 10 games. … Tigers right-hander Bruce Rondon, fighting for the closer role in the Detroit bullpen, struck out two in one inning. Manager Jim Leyland said he still hasn’t decided on a closer. Rondon has 18 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings, but also has a 4.63 ERA. … OF Avisail Garcia was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22 with a right heel contusion. … The Tigers optioned RHP Luke Putkonen to Triple-A Toledo and assigned LHP Jose Alvarez, C Brad Davis and IF Kevin Russo to minor league camp. Detroit has 30 players remaining in major league camp. … LHP Drew Smyly will start on Wednesday for Toledo in a minor league game.
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