Notes: Hudson and Hampton swapped
Switch gives Hudson extra time; not due to poor performance
ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson had a rough first experience pitching in front of Atlanta fans on Saturday afternoon. But that's not why his official 2005 season debut is being pushed back one day.
After Saturday afternoon's 9-5 loss to the Indians, Braves manager Bobby Cox announced that he's going to flip the rotation spots of Hudson and Mike Hampton. Instead of facing the Marlins at Dolphins Stadium on Wednesday, Hudson will be doing it on Thursday.
Hudson missed one exhibition start because of a stiff back and has only totaled 17 2/3 innings this spring. He had decided even before he allowed the Indians seven earned runs on eight hits in four innings on Saturday that he would like one more day to prepare for the regular season.
The plan was to throw more than four innings on Saturday. But control problems plagued him, and he had totaled 85 pitches (53 strikes, 32 balls) by the end of the fourth inning.
"[Hudson] threw 80-some pitches and I didn't want to bring him back on three days' rest," Cox said. "Hampton is perfect for it."
In preparation, Hampton tossed two scoreless innings against the Indians on Saturday. He has enjoyed a strong exhibition season, allowing seven earned runs and 17 hits in 21 innings.
As for Hudson, Saturday was undoubtedly his worst start of the spring. He is just hoping things turn out differently when he makes his actual debut in front of Atlanta fans on April 12 against the Nationals.
"Today was just awful," said Hudson, who posted a 6.62 ERA in the five exhibition starts he made.
Hudson's final two exhibition starts weren't exactly masterpieces. But while allowing the Dodgers seven runs -- four of them earned -- in 4 2/3 innings last Sunday, he felt that he was throwing well.
The right-hander hasn't had any problems with his back over the past few weeks. He's just happy to be getting some of his bad games out of the way before things really begin to matter.
"It's definitely not the outing that I wanted," Hudson said. "I don't think there is any question about that. But it's still Spring Training. If you're going to have a game like this, you want it to come when the games don't count."
Bright new uniforms: Between the third and fourth innings on Saturday, John Smoltz went onto the field and modeled the new red jerseys that the Braves will be wearing during their 13 Sunday home games this year.
"I love them because I'll be wearing them for my first home game," said Smoltz, whose first start at Turner Field will come on Sunday, April 10, when he opposes the Mets' Pedro Martinez.
This is the first time since 1987 that the Braves have changed their uniform. The accompanying hats for the Sunday games will have a navy blue background with the traditional "A" combined with a red tomahawk.
The caps and jerseys can be purchased at any Braves clubhouse store or online at atlantabraves.com.
Strange weather pattern: During a one-hour stretch before Saturday's game, there were periods where rain, sleet and snow all fell for a few moments. Throughout the day, the temperatures dropped and the winds were whipping through the stadium at a strong pace.
But Hudson indicated the harsh conditions weren't to blame for his performance.
"Today wasn't too fun as far as the elements go," Hudson said. "But that's not the reason that I pitched like [that]."
When the sleet began to fall, Smoltz thought it might be a foreshadowing of good things to come for his beloved Michigan State.
"All signs point to Michigan State winning," Smoltz said. "Hell must be freezing over."
Smoltz wore his green Michigan State hat on Saturday morning and plans on wearing it on Saturday night while he watches the Spartans face North Carolina in the Final Four.
Braves bits: The Braves will travel to Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and work out at Dolphins Stadium on Monday afternoon. They'll attempt to get used to the many glares and shadows that are expected for Tuesday's Opening Day showdown against the Marlins. ... Kevin Gryboski discussed going on the disabled list on Saturday morning. He has been encouraged with the velocity he's had during his past two outings, though, and isn't feeling any discomfort in his right shoulder.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.