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Hudson rejoins D-backs for first time since '12

Hudson rejoins D-backs for first time since '12

SAN DIEGO -- After the team charter took off from Phoenix on Sunday night, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson walked to the back of the plane and shook pitcher Daniel Hudson's hand.

After two Tommy John surgeries and more than two years of rehabilitation, Hudson -- along with outfielder Cody Ross -- was activated from the disabled list as the rosters expanded for September.

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"Just being on the team flight last night and getting here and going to get a nice dinner and just walking over, just walking into the locker room," Hudson said. "It's pretty cool for the first time in a while."

Hudson last pitched in a Major League game on June 26, 2012 when he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in a game against the Braves.

After having Tommy John surgery performed and going through a near year-long rehab process, Hudson was just a week away from returning to the big leagues when he re-tore the ligament during a Minor League outing.

A second surgery was required, and this time the team erred on the side of caution and took it slowly with his rehab process.

"The worst part about it is you get so close the first time and you blow out again, and then all of a sudden it's another year plus," Hudson said. "It's kind of hard to explain how frustrating that was. Hopefully I'll get in one of these games and it will be all worth it. I'll be able to put it behind me and not have to worry about it again."

After watching what he has gone through over the last two years, Hudson's teammates have been anticipating his return.

"I think everyone collectively is pulling for him," Gibson said.

Despite reinjuring the elbow the last time around, Hudson said he has not been fearful of that happening again.

"Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought it was going to be," Hudson said. "I thought I was going to have a little bit of -- in the back of my mind -- just doubt on whether or not it would hold up again. Surprisingly, once I got up on the mound and a batter stood in there the adrenaline just kind of took over."

The plan is for Hudson to pitch an inning at a time in relief and make four to six appearances.

As for what his role will be next year, well, that has yet to be determined. Hudson has been a starter throughout his career, but the conventional wisdom is that after two Tommy John surgeries, a pitcher is better off as a reliever.

At least initially in '15 that figures to be the case, but as Hudson said, there are no clear-cut guidelines, but instead it is more of a "guess and test" philosophy.

One thing that is for sure is that Hudson will have a different look when he takes the mound.

Hudson has tweaked his mechanics in an effort to take stress off his elbow and shoulder.

"I don't think you'll be able to tell a huge difference, but it feels a lot different and I feel like I'm actually in a better spot," Hudson said. "In throwing the ball I'm able to find the top of the ball a lot more with these new couple tweaks. I've been working down in the zone a lot more consistently than I might have been last year before I got hurt again."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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