SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In the middle of a champagne-and-beer-soaked clubhouse after the San Francisco Giants won the NL Championship Series, Tim Hudson was given the chance to speak to his team.
The message was as simple as Hudson’s approach on the mound: “World Series, baby!”
After 16 years, 214 regular-season wins and seven failed trips to the postseason, Hudson has finally made it to baseball’s biggest stage at age 39.
Hudson is set to take the mound Friday night for the Giants when they return home to face Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals in Game 3 of the World Series after a two-game split in Kansas City.
“I think everybody thinks about it every year they play,” Hudson said. “Obviously when you go 16 years without having been able to experience something like this, you wonder if it’s going to happen. I’m no different than anybody.”
Hudson’s brilliant career began on the other side of San Francisco Bay as he helped Oakland make four straight trips to the postseason that ended with Game 5 losses in the division series.
Hudson got back to the playoffs with Atlanta, losing in the division series in 2005 to Houston and 2010 to San Francisco. The Braves made it again last year when Hudson was hurt but lost again in the division series.
After signing a $23 million, two-year contract this offseason with San Francisco, Hudson finally got to experience postseason success.
“Coming off my injury last year, I knew that I probably don’t have a lot of years left,” Hudson said. “That was a huge reason I came here to San Francisco. It’s unfolding just how I figured it would.”
Hudson got no-decisions in his first two postseason starts, allowing five runs in 13 2-3 innings against Washington and St. Louis.
The limited work of late has paid dividends. Hudson looks much fresher than he did in September when he went 0-4 with an 8.72 ERA in five starts to end the season while dealing with a bum hip.
“It’s hard enough to play this game when you’re healthy, but when you’re pitching and your hip’s bothering you a little bit — and he’s a warrior,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was never complaining. He was never making excuses, but it was a fact. I think it was affecting him a little bit.”
Despite being picked as an All-Star for the fourth time in his career, Hudson was not at his best in the regular season, and his 9-13 record was the first losing mark of his career. But he managed 31 starts over 189 1-3 innings in his comeback from a broken ankle and has been a key contributor in the postseason.
“He’s a veteran, been around a long time, seen a lot of stuff,” Giants ace Madison Bumgarner said. “He brings a lot to the table, and I feel like he’s still as good as he’s ever been.”
Hudson has a 214-124 career record with a 3.45 ERA. The only pitchers with more wins and a better winning percentage since World War II are Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Jim Palmer and Pedro Martinez.
Guthrie had a long wait just to get to the playoffs. He made his first postseason appearance at age 35 when he allowed one run in five innings of a no-decision against Baltimore in Game 3 of the ALCS.
That start is Guthrie’s only outing the past four weeks; he did not pitch in the division series sweep against the Angels. So Guthrie has done his best to stay sharp with side work instead of pitching in games.
He has also spent time serving as a translator for some of Kansas City’s Spanish-speaking players. Guthrie completed a Mormon mission to Spain when he was in college.
“He’s a tremendous clubhouse presence, too, and he’s a guy with a lot of experience,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s got a very outgoing personality, and he helps all of our Latin guys. He has the unique ability to be able to enjoy all types of players that we have in our locker room.”
“He can converse with the Latin guys on their level. He can converse with the American guys. He hasn’t really mastered Japanese yet for him to be there with Nori (Aoki) much, but he’s just a really fun guy to be around.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.