PHOENIX — Daniel Hudson had been waiting for this day for two years. It only felt like forever.
Hudson threw 20 pitches off the Chase Field mound in a simulated game Tuesday afternoon, the first time he had been back on that rubber since the first of his two Tommy John surgeries knocked him out in mid-summer, 2012.
"It felt good to get back out there," Hudson said. "It is the first time in a year that somebody has actually tried to hit a ball off me. It felt good to get out there and get some juices going."
Hudson threw all three of his pitches, with left fielder Mark Trumbo standing in against him. Tumbo is on his way back from a stress fracture in his left foot, and he could be activated in a couple of weeks.
"His stuff was jumping," Trumbo said.
A 16-game winner in 2012, Hudson tempered his goals this time.
"I wasn’t hoping for much except for no pain, so it was good," Hudson said.
Hudson is taking it more slowly than he did after his first Tommy John surgery on July 9, 2012. A deadline, however soft, was set at that time, and he felt he may have pushed too much to get there. This time, he is on a program that includes long periods of recovery. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Hudson will not throw again for a week, when he likely will have another simulated game.
Hudson said it is hard not to compare the way he is feeling now compared to his 2013 comeback.
"I feel like I feel a lot better this time," he said. "We’ll just see if it keeps going in the right direction."
If all goes well, Hudson is expected to progress to a rehab assignment in August, Gibson said, with an eye toward returning to the major leagues when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
"We’d like to see him throw this year," Gibson said. "Hopefully that could happen. September is probably reasonable."
Hudson said he expects to pitch in relief at least the first year after he returns.
David Peralta has rapidly gained the trust of manager Gibson. Peralta was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch with a runner on first base in the fourth inning Tuesday night. And while Peralta flied out to right field to end the inning, being away to swing away 3-0 is a sign of faith. Tony La Russa is a strong believer in turning hitters loose on 3-0.
14 — Cleveland played who occupied the eighth spot in the batting order. It all started with a double-switch in the fifth, when left-hander Kyle Crockett entered in the eighth pot and David Murphy took over in right and hit ninth.
— Joe Thatcher’s fifth-inning contribution kept the D-backs in the game. Thatcher replaced Wade Miley with no outs and the bases loaded and stuck out Yan Gomes and got Lonnie Chisenhall and Ryan Raburn to pop out. It is the first time in his career he did escaped a situation when the bases were full of inherited runners. "The turning point of the game was when Thatcher came in and he got out of that," manager Kirk Gibson.
— Center fielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Didi Gregorius showed off their arms when they combined to cut Jason Kipnis down at home while trying to turn his fly ball off the center-field wall into an inside-the-park homer in the 13th. The ball hit the fence and then caromed off Inciarte’s head toward left, but he tracked it down and threw a strike to Gregorius, who did the same, getting Kipnis relatively easily. "I thought it was good base running," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "I thought it was good coaching. And an even better play. That was a great throw."
–The D-backs tied a Chase Field record when their five-hour, 32-minute game. Miguel Montero was asked if the game seemed that long. "Not really . . . it felt like seven," Montero said to laughter. "If we have to play 10 hours just to get the win, we take it," Montero said.
–Gerardo Parra appeared to damage his left ring finger when he slid head-first into second base while stealing the base in the the 14th, putting the rally capped by Aaron Hill’s game-winning hit in motion. Parra got medical attention but remained in the game. "I don’t know why guys slide head first, though," Gibson said.
Both teams were out of position players after the 13th inning, when Jordan Pacheco pinch-hit for Matt Stites. Cleveland carried only 12 position players, one fewer than the D-backs, and used right-hander Cory Kluber as a pinch-hitter in the 14th. Kluber is to start today. The D-backs’ nine pitchers threw 235 pitches. Cleveland used 10 pitchers, who threw 278 pitches.