PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tim Hudson was pleased with his performance -- when he was pitching out of jams.
With the bases empty, that's another story.Hudson allowed six hits and a run while throwing 80 pitches over four innings Monday, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets."About 75 of those 80 were stressful pitches," Hudson said.Justin Upton and Chris Johnson each hit solo home runs for the Braves. Marlon Byrd drove in both runs for the Mets.Hudson gave up a hit to the first or second batter in each inning and often found himself in tough spots."It was good work for me," Hudson said. "I was able to pretty much have big situation pitches a lot -- every inning. I was able to work out of most of them and make a good pitch here and there. It was a great work day,"I just wouldn't be happy with it at all if it was June," he said. "That's what spring training's for, I guess."Hudson got some help from catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, who threw out two base runners. And Bethancourt nearly hit Hudson while throwing out Mets outfielder Collin Cowgill in the first inning."He's really good back there," Hudson said. "He threw out a couple guys, he almost threw me out once. He pulled a Benito Santiago on me from his knees. I thought I was low enough, but I wasn't. He's only going to get better."Mets starter Jeremy Hefner, who could be in the mix for a rotation spot if Johan Santana starts the season on the disabled list, went three innings, allowing three hits -- including Upton's homer -- and struck out two."First and foremost, I want Johan to be healthy," Hefner said. "He's a leader of this team. If something happens and he's not able to go, then obviously that would maybe fall on my shoulders. I'm going to prepare to go out and give it my best whenever my name's called. And whatever happens with Johan will take of itself."The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Upton hit a high fastball well over the left field fence. Johnson, who went 3 for 3, connected in the seventh.Byrd, a non-roster invitee, continued his strong spring, had a hit and is batting .400 in six Grapefruit League games."He's done a great job," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "One of the things I think, for sure, we're excited about seeing is his steadiness in the clubhouse and everything else, being a veteran guy. He did play winter ball until a week before spring training. That helps him coming in here, but I like a lot of the things I see."
Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis had an MRI on his left knee and was diagnosed with a bone bruise. Collins said he should be back on the field in three to five days. Nieuwenhuis injured the knee sliding in a game Sunday. . Mets pitching prospect Zack Wheeler (mild oblique strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday.