Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) is checked on by a trainer after being injured in a collision at first base with New York Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Citi Field on Wednesday. (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Braves stalwart Tim Hudson was lost for the season when he fractured his right ankle in a gruesome injury on Wednesday that clouded the pitcher’s Major League Baseball future and the team’s championship hopes.
Hudson, 38, a winner of 205 games in his 14-year career, suffered the horrific injury when his right ankle was trampled on by a sprinting Eric Young Jr. in a close play at first base in the Braves’ 8-2 road victory over the New York Mets.
Hudson was covering the base after Young’s grounder in the eighth inning bounced off first baseman Freddie Freeman’s chest.
The pitcher raced over and planted his right foot on the middle of the bag as he received Freeman’s throw just as Young inadvertently stepped down directly on Hudson’s ankle.
Hudson, lying on the ground in obvious pain, was carted off the Citi Field diamond and the club announced later that he would undergo surgery once the swelling goes down.
“He was in disbelief and obviously in a lot of pain,” said Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, one of many teammates that rushed over to the stricken pitcher.
“You could just see the thoughts going through his head, like this is unbelievable and this can’t be happening. I know he was in a lot of pain.”
Catcher Brian McCann recognized at once the gravity of the collision that left Hudson on the ground for nearly eight minutes.
“I ran down there as quick as I could,” McCann said. “You could tell he was in pain. He’s one of the toughest guys you’re ever going to meet. So if he’s laying down there, that means he’s hurt.”
Hudson, who won his fourth consecutive start to improve his record to 8-7, is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2013 season.
He was brilliant against the Mets, yielding two runs on four hits while striking out a season-high nine batters, including seven looking in his 7 2/3 innings on the mound.
Beyond his pitching, Hudson also served as a clubhouse leader for the Braves (57-44), who lead the National League East by a massive eight games over the Philadelphia Phillies with the Washington Nationals another game back.
“He’s the veteran presence that people go to, he’s Tim Hudson,” said McCann. “That guy has 200 wins, and he’s the best teammate you’re ever going to have. Everybody in here feels bad for him.”
Uggla said Young was apologetic and emotional as he stayed at the side of Hudson, who was strapped to a backboard before being carted off the field.
“EY is just a great dude,” Uggla said. “He plays the game hard in the right way.
“You could see how devastated and upset he was that he was the one who stepped on him. It was just one of those freak accident plays.”
Said Young: “Obviously, I wasn’t trying to hurt him on the play. He just told me to keep my head up and keep playing the game the hard way and the right way.
“He said there was nothing I can do about it. That made me feel somewhat better, but still bummed that he’s going to be out for a while.”