John Hudgins had a long road back

John Hudgins is back. After losing a year to injury and subsequent surgery, the right-hander made his debut in the San Diego Padres Instructional League and was sent to the AFL to continue the recovery process. We caught up with Hudgins to discuss the path back to the mound.

It has been a year – you had a few outings in the Instructional League. How did you feel after those first two outings I got to see?

John Hudgins: I felt pretty good. At this time of the rehab deal it is getting your feet wet, getting back into it and getting all the things you used to do back in shape and back in alignment.

It is an everyday process but I am feeling good.

Did you feel like you were on your way at the time and how disappointing was it?

John Hudgins: It was tough. It was a hard year really. Seeing where you could have been and what you could have done goes through your mind.

It ended up being a good year for me too in a lot of ways. I was able to focus on a lot of things at home. I am able to come back with my mind right and ready to go.

What did you learn about yourself during the process?

John Hudgins: Where I wasn't, I guess. It was more mental than anything. I spent the time to refocus and really re-love the game in a way. Getting the time off humbles you and that was good for me too.

I feel like I am going to come into this year with a new appreciation for the game and go at it hard all year.

Was there any worry for you that you weren't going to be the same pitcher you were or would lose something? It is obviously a more common procedure now so it is not as big but the personal battle.

John Hudgins: It was in the back of my mind but wasn't too prevalent. You can't let too much of that creep in anyway or you will go crazy. It was there but not to a large extent.

Where do you feel after two outings in Instructs?

John Hudgins: I still have a long way to go. You didn't see me out of the stretch. That hadn't been great and I need some work there. There are a few little things – getting a feel back for pitches and locations and sequences. It is coming along pretty quick.

You have an off-season to continue the rehab process and then come to Spring Training. What are the expectations moving forward for you?

John Hudgins: I want to be in the big leagues next year. That should be everyone's goal. I feel like I am at that point where it is time. I am going to be pushing myself hard through this off-season and tone it up next year and see where it takes us.

Do you feel the tiredness in your arm – ‘I just threw 15 pitches and am beat.'

John Hudgins: The endurance is not quite there. That is for sure. That is to be expected. I have not gone out there like this and competed for a long time. It will come. I am not worried about that.

When do you know you have pushed yourself too hard?

John Hudgins: It depends on how you feel the next day. They keep a pretty good account – they pay attention to pitch counts and I haven't really been able to extend myself too badly.

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