The timing is no coincidence. Nor is the locale. Both speak to the very essence of the man.
Sometime this morning — Jan. 23, 2014 — at Auburn University, new Giants right-hander Tim Hudson will throw off a mound for the first time since suffering a gruesome ankle injury on July 24, 2013.
An ultra-competitive sort whose relatively diminutive stature has fueled an athletic life of proving people wrong, Hudson was told, in the aftermath of the surgery required to stabilize his shredded, broken right wheel, to expect not to climb a mound for at least six months.
He’ll be back on a mound exactly one day shy of six.
The significance of Auburn? Perhaps you’ve heard the “drop” that KNBR (680 AM) has been using for years: War Eagle, Murph! That’s Hudson, professing his undying love for his alma mater by way of greeting 680 morning-drive host Brian Murphy.
Today’s milestone bullpen session represents Hudson to the core: tough, determined, loyal.
His tone during a 20-minute conversation Wednesday that covered everything from his rehab, his readiness for spring training, his excitement about coming back to the Bay Area and his role as an elder statesman for the Giants was Hudson to the core, too: honest, positive, playful, humble.
“I’m the Todd Jones of the staff, man!” he said with a chuckle, referencing another Georgia-born big leaguer. “I’m-a have me a pot belly … and a walrus ‘stache.”
Hudson, whose two-year, $23-million contract from the Giants makes clear that the team knewexactly what kind of pitcher and man they were bringing on board, said Wednesday that he’s close to 100 percent physically and will arrive in Scottsdale, Ariz., next month without any sort of restrictions.
Mentally and verbally, he’s already in mid-season form.
“I don’t even think about it anymore when I’m working out,” he said of the ankle, which got mangled in a baseline stomping of the foot from New York Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr., whose look of horror while trying to comfort Hudson screamed career-ender. That would have been a damn shame; Hudson was working on a four-hit shutout at the time, as well as a 10-start, two-month stretch over which he’d posted a 2.73 ERA.
“I was just hittin’ my stride, man, and I got whacked out!” he said. “Ain’t that somethin’?”
If you’re an A’s fan, you already know what Hudson is all about, and you love him to this day — even though he turned down a similarly generous offer from old friend Billy Beane to sign with San Francisco.
Giants fans will soon see — and hear — why Brian Sabean joined Beane and several other GMs in fairly lavishly vying for the services of a closing-on-40 pitcher who’s undergone Tommy John, back and ankle surgeries over the past five-plus years.
–Mychael Urban, San Francisco Examiner
Short-attention-span reading, and writing …
Jim Harbaugh went on an interesting tangent at his season-wrap news conference this week, praising the Bay Area media.
Why? Who knows for sure, but two partial guesses:
1) Harbaugh wants a mega-contract extension from Jed York, and it never hurts to sound gracious heading into it.
2) After three very successful — but non-title-winning — seasons, Harbaugh is feeling more comfortable with his role as the team spokesman and maybe is realizing that this is a pretty good job to have … and to keep for a while longer.
That doesn’t mean Harbaugh will get a new deal or stay with the 49ers for 10 more years. But I definitely sensed some Harbaugh emotional re-calibrations at the end of this season, and this soliloquy was part of it.
- Some of the Harbaugh tangent:”Something that has stood out in my mind is just how good it’s been to work with all of you, weekly, monthly, during an entire season.
“And I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, not professionally … I want to compliment you on just the way you’ve all handled the news and your accuracy, your professionalism.
“You’ve reported it. And I know you don’t take sides or choose up sides. I know you’re very eager to be neutral. But I’ve felt that you’ve done it in a very professional way.
“There wasn’t a time you tried to divide the team. There was no malice in the way our media handled the season.”
- I’ve always gotten along with Harbaugh, by the way, even through there were some very bumpy times.He makes things endlessly interesting, he doesn’t try to trick anybody into thinking he’s everybody’s best friend, and he never expects (or wants) bootlicking in return.
–Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
Oh, if only social media were around when Deion Sanders was playing. He would make Richard Sherman look like a novice.
Two decades ago, Sanders was the Trash Talk King when Sherman barely had started school. With the 49ers in 1994, Sanders decided to get into a slap fight at midfield – during a game – with Andre Risonand then pranced through the Georgia Dometrashing Rison and shouting, “This is my house!”
A year later, then with Dallas, Sanders mocked Jerry Rice when Rice took umbrage at the suggestion that the 49ers won a Super Bowl only because of Sanders. “I laughed,” Sanders said. “It was funny as hell to me. To see the guy upset and curse and stumble over some words.”
Can’t wait for the Sanders-Sherman Super Bowl interview. And the crowd in front of Sherman at Media Day.
— We understand that Roger Goodell has a lot on his plate. He has piles of snow on his Super Bowl field. He has officiating crews that haven’t figured out how to enforce the new rules.
Most important, he has a federal judge undoing all of his PR machine’s spin. Judge Anita Brody has denied preliminary approval of the NFL’s settlement of the class-action suit for $765 million announced in August, while voicing the same concerns that were raised the moment the deal was done. That there’s not enough money.
“I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who receive a qualifying diagnosis will be paid,” Brody wrote.
So forgive me if I don’t get Goodell’s focus on the extra point as what troubles football. It has worked for 100 years, allows viewers to see a replay of the touchdown and means that coaches have memorized the scoring math.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle