08/07/2002 8:23 pm ET
MLBeat: Hudson moves up
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Coming off a 4-for-4 performance Tuesday, Orlando Hudson moved up in the Blue Jays' batting order on Wednesday night. Hudson was slotted into the second spot, in between Shannon Stewart and Eric Hinske. The experiment worked immediately -- Hudson doubled in his first at-bat, extending his hitting streak to nine straight games.
The rookie second baseman entered Wednesday's game against Seattle with a .359 batting average in 12 games, but it isn't an empty batting average. Hudson has come up with an extra-base hit in four of his last five games, and he's scored at least one run in each of those games.
"I like his approach right now. He's seeing a lot of pitches; he's not panicking when he gets two strikes on him," said Toronto manager Carlos Tosca. "The way that he's swinging the bat, I figured it was a good time to pop him in there."
Tosca went on to say that Hudson's enthusiasm has been infectious, that he wants to win and goes about business the right way.
"He's got great dugout awareness; he really cares about winning and losing," Tosca said. "He's enthusiastic and it's been channeled in the right direction."
In addition to his offense and intangibles, there is more to the package. Hudson has more range than any other Blue Jay who has played second base this season. He's also sure-handed, athletic and quick on the basepaths. Tosca said that he doesn't have great base-stealing speed, but that his instincts will help him swipe a few.
With all that said, the promotion to the top part of the lineup isn't permanent. Tosca said that when Carlos Delgado comes back, Eric Hinske will man the second slot for the rest of the season.
Bad back: Delgado sat out his fourth straight game Wednesday due to pain and tightness in his lower back. The first baseman was able to take batting practice, but he wasn't well enough to get back in the lineup.
Tosca said that the best-case scenario would have Delgado at DH Thursday for the final game of the Seattle series.
Catching on: In Delgado's absence, Tom Wilson made his first start of the season at first base. Wilson has played in two games at first as a substitute, but this was his first career start at that position.
Normally, Wilson is a backup catcher, but with a few injuries, the Blue Jays had to scramble. Dave Berg, who had played three straight games at first, needed a day off. Into the void stepped Wilson, and he played the position without incident.
Dreadful debut: Mark Hendrickson, the rookie who made his debut on Tuesday night, retired the first batter he faced before plunging into his own personal nightmare. The 6-foot-9 southpaw gave up five runs, adding up to a 135.00 ERA.
Hendrickson, a former NBA player, said he could feel his mechanics slipping but couldn't do anything to fix them. When asked what the basketball equivalent of that performance was, he said, "Coming in and shooting a few airballs. It couldn't have been much worse."
Tosca said Wednesday that Hendrickson would be limited to a batter or two his next time out. Specifically, a left-handed batter or two. The Blue Jays' brain trust wants to see if Hendrickson has the stuff to be a situational reliever.
The 28-year-old rookie said it was good to get the first game out of the way, even though he was extremely frustrated with the results. He also said he should be able to make the necessary adjustments pretty quickly.
"For me, the damage was self-inflicted. A lot of times, it's not staying back," he said, describing his mechanical difficulties. "That can only help, though. For me, it's quickly back to the film room."
Fantasy Edge: Suddenly, Jose Cruz Jr. is streaking. The right fielder is batting .309 with 17 RBIs in the 25 games since the All-Star break. In his last 34 games, he has 31 RBIs, and 25 of his last 45 hits have gone for extra bases.
Spencer Fordin, who covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com, can be reached at
email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.