Here's a transcription of David's interview with new Pirate Daniel Hudson on ESPN 970 earlier this week. It was transcribed by Adeline Todd, and edited for length and clarity by David and Charlie.
I spoke to Jeff Passan [author of the book The Arm, which has Hudson as one of its subjects] on the show yesterday. I don't know Jeff personally, but I imagine in the process of spending as much time as he did with you and how open you were with him, you developed a relationship with him. He said a lot of wonderful things and obviously he's rooting for you. Tell me about the experience of being involved in the book before we get into going through the two Tommy John surgeries and rehab.
Yes, that was interesting for sure. Having three weeks when we first signed up to do it, the book would probably have come out about a year earlier if I hadn't gotten hurt again. I thought it was going to be a shorter process, but things happen. Jeff was actually there when I hurt my arm for the second time. And he kind of turned out to be more of a friend than a writer for me.
You come off as a great guy in the book. The whole thing that's so gripping and captivating about the story is that you had gone through the Tommy John surgery, but you hadn't gone through the rehab. Nobody really knows what to tell you and what it's like and what you're supposed to feel. You know it's not going to be perfect, you're going to feel some pain. What was that like for you, that process? And then getting the news, it had to be devastating.
Yeah, going through it for the first time, when I originally hurt myself the first time, some guys describe it as a steel pop on a first pitch or one pitch. I never felt that. It was gradual. For a long time in my career, I kind of just dealt with soreness. At this time it wasn't really like that. I knew the difference between soreness and pain. It was just one of those things where it just didn't take. And unfortunately it did happen and it's obviously a good life story to tell and obviously got time in the book.
With the money currently in baseball, I spend a lot of time in the offseason talking about how the Pirates should allocate their somewhat limited budget. We've seen guys like Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco sign long-term deals. We look back at Andrew McCutchen and it looks like, well, he left a lot of money on the table. But he also got $51 million guaranteed. You were in a unique situation back in 2012 where you got offered a $15 million deal and you turned it down. And I know you, as you went through the rehab process, you had to wonder if you are ever going to see that kind of money again. So I have to think yesterday was a very special day.
For sure. At the time, it didn't seem like the right time to sign the deal. Obviously, hindsight being what it is, you know you don't think it's going to happen to you twice. You know Tommy John's was becoming a regular thing. It’s unfortunate for guys, but guys are coming back and still being productive and still making pretty good money after they came back. That was kind of a risk I was willing to take, and I got hurt the first time. You know things are still looking fine. My arm was feeling good for a while and then it wasn’t, and then all of a sudden, now me not taking the deal looks really bad for me, but it looked good for the team. It's one of those things where it looks good for one person, bad for the other and you know it just didn't work out. But yesterday -- for sure. Like I said three years ago, I didn't even know if I would pitch in a game again at that point. And to have yesterday happen was definitely rewarding and I'm definitely grateful.
What was your perception on the Pirates organization going into this offseason?
Watching from the other bullpen these past couple of years, it has always seemed like a fun, close-knit group and I have always kind of admired the way the staff runs. And I'm going to try to join that group and learn from Ray (Searage) and go from there. I'm definitely pumped up.
Had you had any personal interaction other than a cursory hello with Ray, with Clint, or with Neal before this process?
No, not at all. Some people were asking my opinion on this organization, if I even knew any of the guys on the active roster. The only guy I know is A.J. Schugel. It's definitely going to be a new experience for me, but I feel like I can fit in. I'm definitely looking forward to joining that group.
In Jeff's book, you came off as a guy who is well-liked by teammates and well-liked by the organization, and that's the best anybody can ask for. How did you perceive how you were written about in the book? Did you think Jeff caught things reasonably well?
Yeah, I think Jeff did a great job in the book. I'm going to be honest with you -- I did not read a whole lot of my part in the book. It seemed like it would be a little weird for me. The way he kind of intertwined my story and Todd Coffey's story was pretty cool. I wanted to read a lot of Todd's stuff and sometimes I'd glance and see if my part was coming up again. And I'd read a couple pages and then skip ahead to Todd's part again. It was just very well written. Jeff did a great job. I especially enjoyed his interactions with Sandy Koufax and everybody that he talked to throughout his time researching everything going on with the elbow.
As a pitcher, did you find the book fascinating?
For sure. You know all the research he did, going over to Asia and seeing what their philosophies were, and talking to old-time pitching coaches and then talking to all the guys up at Driveline and all that stuff, it's definitely cool to see how things have progressed and how people are viewing the arm.
Now you're two years removed (from injury) so I imagine there is at least a little bit of stability in your mind about what you do. What is your offseason routine? Do you have a stable offseason routine that you can go to now?
Yes. I take a lot of time off with my arm. I give it a big break, and as offseason progresses I try to stay in the same routines. I have two kids now and it's hard to keep a working routine around that, but at the same time I basically do the same thing. I get my arm in shape and start throwing right around the beginning of the year. That's usually served me pretty well in the past and I've usually been ready to go by Spring Training.
Have you spoken to Ray and have you exchanged ideas of how you'll get to mid-February when pitchers and the catchers report?
I have not spoken to Ray yet. I'm definitely looking forward to my conversation with him. I assume it's going to be pretty similar to what most organizations do nowadays in terms of getting their pitchers ready to go and ready for competitive games in late February and maybe even earlier now this year with a World Baseball Classic. We'll definitely have a conversation and figure out where to go from there.
The Pirates have had a pretty solid bullpen the past couple years, anchored by Mark Melancon. He got moved right at the deadline. Tony Watson took over the role. I saw that you mentioned that the Pirates had not been specific about roles. It would appear for those of us who follow the team pretty closely that you would slot right into the role that Neftali Feliz had last year, the setup guy to Tony. I know you have some incentives in the contract for how many games you close. Did you get into those conversations when you're talking with the Pirates or did you leave it to your agent?
I kind of left it to my agent. The way bullpens are going, they are to starting to use guys differently. I don't really worry about roles. You know there's going to be a situation where somebody's going to need to pitch every single night, whether it's fifth or sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth. I don't really get stuck on who's the closer, who's the set-up guy. It's nice to know about how many times you're going to pitch, but at some point you know you're going to have to go out there and get a big out, or two or three, and it doesn't really matter when that is for me. If Tony's the main closer and he's throwing in the ninth that night and I'm throwing in the eighth, I'm just trying to get three outs to bring the ball home to him.
As a sabermetrically inclined guy, that's of music to my ears. I know Clint has changed his philosophy a little over the years. He used to say that guys need to know what their role is specifically. But as you know, we often see situations where the outs in the seventh or eighth inning may be more difficult, because you're going to face the better part of the lineup versus what you might get in the ninth. What was your take watching the playoffs, watching how Terry Francona used a guy like Andrew Miller? Obviously it's going to be incredibly difficult to do something like that over 162-day season. But do you like the way a guy like Miller was used?
I do, a lot. Like you said, it's just the way things are going in terms of managing a bullpen. I think it'll be a way to shorten a game. There's going to be a turn in the way starting pitchers are even used here coming up pretty quick with guys going through a lineup, you know, three times max. I think it's just the way the game's going. And I think the more fresh arms you can get in there, the earlier the better. Just giving the lineup something different to look at and not giving a guy three looks at a starter, or four looks at a starter. I think it's going to be a big challenge for managers to work a bullpen like that. And I'm looking forward to the challenge for sure.
Do you look at of Fangraphs or some of the more analytical sites?
Yes, sometimes. When I went through my rough spot there, in the middle of the season, I was checking Brooks Baseball out a lot, and I was checking on my release points. It's crazy the stuff that's available to guys nowadays and I think you kind of have to take advantage of it. If you're not, you're really gonna start falling behind.
Do you watch video on yourself and on hitters?
I haven't been a huge video guy in my career. In the past year and a half or so I've definitely started looking at a lot more. When I was a starter I would always just kind of watch the way guys are approaching me that night. I always thought it was a night-by-night thing, the way guys are approaching the game, approaching their at bats. But over the last year and a half, I definitely started watching more videos and looking at more ways guys are getting pitched.
If you're in the middle the season, and let's say you've seen the Pirates once and you're going to see them again a month and a half later, are you able to recall the last time you faced Marte or McCutchen? Do you have that in your head, or do you go back and look at it or just go by the scouting report you have when the series opens?
I definitely keep that in the back of my mind, how I attacked those guys. Using the Pirates' order as an example, those are the types of guys you can't always attack the same way. You kind of file it away in the back of your mind, like hey, I got this guy out this way or maybe he smoked this ball off me. Baseball's such a streaky game that if I don't face them for a month and a half, I know they could either be hotter or colder than they were the last time I saw them. You definitely have to you know to take advantage of the videos and everything that's available to your use nowadays to see how they're doing at that time.
With the surgeries and what you've gone through, are you able to go more than an inning at this point in your career?
I think so. When I was originally trying to make the rotation in 2015, I was going multiple innings in Spring Training. Then when I broke camp, I ended up going back to the bullpen and I was actually trying to be the swingman, you know, taking the ball to the back end of the bullpen. My role kind of advanced into being a back-end guy and I still think I can go multiple innings if needed. Like you said, it's tough to do that a lot of times over 162 games. If needed I think I could go multiple innings for sure.
What's the thumbnail scouting report on Daniel Hudson?
I'd like to think I'm a pretty hard thrower and I've got a decent changeup and breaking ball. So I can get you out in multiple ways, I hope.
On the pitch mix, is it a two-seamer or four-seamer?
It's weird. I grip the ball four-seam every single time. Sometimes I get on top of it a little bit more and it sinks and sometimes I'm able to spin the back of the ball more and really four-seam it up there. Sometimes I get mixed up, but I always grip it four-seam, but I'm able to kind of manipulate it a little bit.
And the breaking ball is more of a slider or a cutter?
It's more of a slider than a cutter or curveball, and then I throw a circle change as well.