ATLANTA -- With two more Minor League rehab starts scheduled before he is activated from the disabled list, Tim Hudson believes he is in better shape than he would have been two weeks before his regular-season debut in a normal season.
"I actually feel better," Hudson said. "I feel like my body is in better shape because I did have six weeks of Spring Training to get in shape, even though I wasn't pitching. I wasn't down there just playing golf and eating donuts. I feel better physically than I normally do."
Hudson made steady progress through Spring Training and received his wish to complete two innings during the Braves' final Spring Training game in Florida. The 36-year-old veteran has since made two rehab starts for Class-A Rome. He will take the mound at Coolray Field on Wednesday night to make the first of his final two rehab starts with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Hudson is aiming to rejoin the Braves rotation for the April 29 game against the Pirates. He believes the back surgery he underwent on Nov. 28 will allow him to realize the relief he was not feeling the past couple years when he was having trouble with normal activities like tying his shoes.
"It's like night and day with how I feel," Hudson said. "Right now, I'm more concerned about getting my work done on the side and location and effectiveness of my pitches than I am my health. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think that's behind me. I don't even think about my back and all of that."
Hanson's curveballs to Davis a hot topic
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez managed to remain patient as he listened to multiple questions about Tommy Hanson's decision to throw Ike Davis seven straight curveballs at one point during Monday night's loss to the Mets.
Had that final curveball generated the same result as most of the others previously thrown to Davis, Gonzalez would have likely never been asked about the sequence of pitches. But this proved to be a popular topic because Hanson threw only curveballs within the five-pitch, sixth-inning at-bat that concluded with Davis hitting a decisive, three-run home run.
"Yeah, conventional wisdom says throw a fastball up and change his eyesight," Gonzalez said. "It was a 2-2 count, so he didn't have much leeway to go with it. All of the sudden, if you try to change elevation and he misses a fastball out over the plate and he hits it, then it's 'why are you throwing a fastball?'"
With runners at the corners, two outs and Jason Bay on deck, Hanson did not necessarily want to waste a pitch to bring the count full. So, instead of trying to get Davis to chase a fastball outside of the strike zone, he went with the same curveball that had brought him consistent success against the Mets' first baseman.
Seventeen of the 21 pitches Hanson has thrown Davis this year have been curveballs. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, 27 of the 55 pitches he threw the Mets first baseman were curveballs.
The formula had worked, as Davis entered the sixth-inning plate appearance with just two hits in 14 at-bats against Hanson. Both of those hits were singles recorded off of fastballs.
"It wasn't a bad pitch at all," Gonzalez said of the home run. "I thought it was more over the plate. It was out over the corner and down a little bit. Tip your hat. It was a good pitch and a good location and he hit it."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's decision to rest Martin Prado on Tuesday allowed Jason Heyward to hit in the second spot of the lineup for the first time since July 25. He has now been in the second spot for 137 of his 252 career starts.
• Bo Jackson will throw the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday afternoon's game against the Mets. Jackson is promoting Bo Bikes Bama, a 300-mile bike journey that will travel through tornado-ravaged communities to raise money for the Alabama Governor's Emergency Relief Fund. For more information, visit bobikesbama.com
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.