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Hudson 'close to 100 percent' on reporting day

Giants will be careful with veteran's recovering ankle as conditioning ramps up

Hudson 'close to 100 percent' on reporting day

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Teams try to design Spring Training workout schedules to eliminate idle time as much as possible. This is more than just a goal for the Giants and Tim Hudson. It's an imperative.

Hudson, the free-agent acquisition who's expected to bolster the Giants' starting rotation, believes that his right ankle injury will heal enough to allow him to begin the regular season on schedule. If he's correct, he'll likely pitch in one of the final two games of the Giants' season-opening four-game series March 31-April 3 at Arizona.

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What's encouraging for Hudson and the Giants is that he already has thrown three times off a mound, which is part of his usual offseason regimen. What's challenging for the right-hander is that he began conditioning exercises only recently.

"I'm pretty close to 100 percent," Hudson said Friday as Giants pitchers and catchers reported to spring camp. "It's not quite there yet, but we still have a few more weeks to get it there. I don't think it's going to be a problem. ... The next few weeks will be a pretty good gauge of where it is, pounding on it every day and staying on it every day. It will let me know what it can and can't do. As of right now, it's responding really well."

Manager Bruce Bochy intends to save wear and tear on Hudson's ankle by making sure he doesn't stand around so much, as he might do while shagging flies in the outfield during batting practice, for instance.

"We probably will monitor his time on the field," Bochy said. "I don't want to see him standing too much."

Hudson doesn't intend to stand still, either, when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge. Though he's 38 and tied with the Yankees' CC Sabathia for most victories by an active pitcher (205), Hudson insisted that he still thrives on absorbing advice from his peers.

"The day you feel like you're not going to go out there and try to pick up something and learn something is the day that you probably need to take it to the house," Hudson said. "I've played a long time, but there are still things that I learn. It's more than about the game. It's about myself and about things that help me tick and get better every day. As a pitcher, you're going to go through changes and you're going to have to reinvent things here and there along the way. If you're able to do that and make those adjustments and do those little tweaks throughout your career, you're able to pitch for a long time."

Hudson should know. He's entering his 16th season, extending his tenure by expanding his pitching repertoire to include more off-speed deliveries. Earlier in his career, he used a changeup but threw breaking balls only occasionally.

"There's more than one way to do things," Hudson said. "There's always different points of views and styles of pitching."

Thus Hudson appreciated the location of the Scottsdale Stadium dressing stall he was assigned. He's stationed among his fellow starters -- between Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, who has Madison Bumgarner next to him.

"The quicker you can work on that chemistry, the better off the whole team's going to be," said Hudson, who has played for only two sub-.500 ballclubs as a Major Leaguer.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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