|Injured All-Star Orlando Hudson providing emotional lift to young Diamondbacks in playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 11 October 2007 06:27|
But Hudson said he hopes to play in the World Series if the Arizona Diamondbacks make it. They opened the NL championship series against NL West rival Colorado on Thursday night in Chase Field.
``Ask and you shall receive,'' Hudson said before the game. ``I'm not counting it out. If I had two broken legs, I wouldn't count me out.''
While it's unlikely Hudson will be back before next spring, he's previously overcome long odds. Drafted by Toronto in the 43rd round in 1997, Hudson has won a Gold Glove each of the last two years - one in each league.
Even if he doesn't play in this postseason, Hudson is having an impact on the Diamondbacks during their unlikely October run. One of Arizona's few veterans, Hudson is a colorful stitch in Arizona's tightly woven fabric.
``Don't underestimate what his value has been,'' said Tony Clark, whose locker stall is next to Hudson's.
Hudson's constant chatter lightens the mood during pregame stretching and batting practice. Everyone is ``Dog'' to Hudson, who answers to ``O-Dog.'' In the clubhouse, he often provides an example for younger teammates.
``Just the energy he brings, keeping everybody loose,'' rookie right fielder Justin Upton said. ``He's a guy you have to have around every day at a time like this.''
For more than five months, Hudson contributed on and off the field. He was having a superb season when he tore ligaments in his thumb sliding into third base against San Diego on Sept. 4.
He batted .294 with 10 home runs, nine triples, 28 doubles and 63 RBIs in 139 games this season. The 29-year-old Hudson was selected to his first All-Star team.
He opened the season by reaching base in 33 straight games, the third-longest streak in franchise history, and closed it by hitting safely in 21 of his last 31 games.
Then came the injury, and what seemed to be the end of Hudson's season. Four days after the Sept. 10 operation, Hudson wanted to rejoin his teammates in Los Angeles for a critical series against the Dodgers. The team persuaded him to stay home and rest.
When the Diamondbacks came home, Hudson greeted them in a garish red cast, which matched the team's ``Sedona Red'' uniforms.
``A little team spirit,'' Upton said.
It's not an act. Hudson wasn't about to stay home and feel sorry for himself.
``I'm here as if I was playing,'' he said. ``I stick around. This is my family. I'm not going anywhere just because I'm hurt. It doesn't mean I'm going to sit at home and not do anything. I'm enjoying watching these boys pull through.''
The experts may be surprised by the Diamondbacks. Hudson isn't. He has watched touted prospects such as Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Mark Reynolds blossom into productive big leaguers this summer.
``These are major leaguers right here,'' he said. ``How does that surprise you? The way that they're playing, they're doing a hell of a job. These young kids are just going out and playing. Nobody expected them to be here.''
Hudson has never played in the postseason, but he offered advice to young teammates who are making their playoff debut.
``Have fun, man,'' he said. ``It's the same game as it was in the regular season. This game's already hard enough. You can't more pressure on yourself than there already is. Go out and play and keep doing what you're doing.''
The Diamondbacks have been streaky all season, and they got hot in the opening round against Chicago, sweeping the favored Cubs in three games. Even after that victory, Arizona still has plenty of doubters, and that's fine with Hudson.
``I don't want to jinx us,'' Hudson said. ``I want everybody to think that we don't belong here, so we can go out and keep doing what we're doing.''