ATLANTA — Daniel Hudson had his worst suspicions confirmed Saturday morning. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and the veteran reliever won’t be pitching for the Dodgers again this season.
“It’s tough,” said Hudson who suffered the injury during the eighth inning of Friday night’s game. “I was throwing the ball great, team was playing great. Hopefully the boys will step up and keep it going.”
Hudson will travel back to Los Angeles on Monday to consult with doctors about the next steps, starting with surgery to repair the damage. The projected recovery timeline is six to nine months.
A long rehab is unfortunately a familiar road for the 35-year-old Hudson, who has returned from two Tommy John surgeries to forge a 13-year career in the major leagues – a career that includes throwing the final pitch of the 2019 World Series for the Washington Nationals.
“It’s extremely frustrating. I’ve been through a lot,” Hudson said. “Obviously this is the first major injury that wasn’t my arm. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But at this stage in my career, it’s kind of concerning and it’s hard not to have bad thoughts. Hopefully I can get through this and maybe give it another shot.”
Hudson said he does not intend for the injury to be career-ending.
“As of right now, I don’t want that to be the last image of me on a baseball field,” he said. “So we’ll see what happens, get through surgery and go from there.”
Hudson led the Dodgers’ bullpen with nine holds and also had five saves to go with a 2.22 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 25 appearances.
Moving on without him will be challenging for a Dodgers’ bullpen that has already been trying to absorb the losses of Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle, among others. Both are optimistically projected to return at some point in the second half. But acquiring bullpen help before the Aug. 2 trade deadline became a higher priority when Hudson dropped to the ground Friday night.
“If you look at kind of how we have run things over my tenure here, it’s always worked because we’ve had a guy that bought into what we were doing – the fireman, the leverage guy to kind of pitch in big spots to bridge the gap,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of a role filled by Joe Blanton, Brandon Morrow, Pedro Baez, Joe Kelly and Treinen – then Hudson after Treinen’s shoulder injury in April.
“It takes a skill set. It also takes a certain professionalism and the guys that we had in the seven years, they’ve allowed the whole ‘pen to work. So yeah, to lose him, it’s a big loss.”
The Dodgers could add a number of relievers internally in the second half. Treinen is projected to return from his shoulder injury in August. So is Kahnle (forearm) who just began a throwing program. Lefties Danny Duffy (flexor tendon surgery last fall) and Victor Gonzalez (debridement surgery on his elbow in May) have begun throwing bullpen sessions and could also return in the second half.
For teammates like Evan Phillips, though, watching the veteran Hudson drop to the ground with an injury Friday “makes your heart hit your stomach.”
“He’s had a heckuva road (back from injuries), a heckuva career too. So for him to go down like that is really a shame,” Phillips said.
“Just to have that kind of professionalism around us every day – Daniel is not really the kind of guy to goof off too much. He’s very business-oriented, professional is the best way to put it, but still a good guy to have in the ‘pen, a good guy to look up to for us young guys. So it’s really disappointing that we’re not going to have him.”
That disappointment will create opportunities for other relievers to pitch in higher-leverage situations, Roberts said.
“I think the message this season has always been just to get outs. Go in there when you’re called upon and do your job,” Phillips said. “That’s probably going to be the message now. When your name is called, go in there and get outs and hand it off to the next guy.”
Hudson was placed on the injured list Saturday and right-hander Mitch White was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start against the Braves. Hanser Alberto also rejoined the team and was activated from the paternity list. Stefen Romero was designated for assignment.
Dodgers (RHP Tony Gonsolin, 9-0, 1.58 ERA) at Braves (RHP Spencer Strider, 3-2, 3.40 ERA), 4:08 p.m. Sunday, ESPN, 570 AM