CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox third baseman Orlando Hudson wasn’t having a good night when he stepped to the plate with the game tied and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
His evening was either going to get much better or a whole lot worse depending on the outcome of the at-bat.
His play had been suspect in the field all night. His glove was too slow to snatch a hard-hit grounder in the third inning. He looked like a matador with a bull approaching him as the ball flew past him and led to two runs. His instincts were again a step behind on a grounder down the third-base line and a liner just over his head; both leading to hits.
To add to his woes, he nearly handed the Blue Jays a run in the eighth inning with the game tied 3-3. With two outs and a runner on third, Hudson was hit a groundball and instead of throwing to first base for the final out he rifled it home. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski wasn’t expecting it, but he caught the ball and quickly applied the tag for the out. Hudson later said he knew how many outs there were, and he felt safer throwing home.
Despite all that went wrong for him, Hudson had a chance in the ninth inning to redeem what had been a few hours of personal frustration with a successful momentary swing.
Given a fastball on a 1-1 count, Hudson made contact, the ball sprung off his bat, and it found an open patch of grass in center field. Dayan Viciedo easily scored from third base for the game-winning run to give the White Sox a 4-3 win, and Hudson’s teammates ran out to first base and mobbed him in celebration.
As White Sox manager Robin Ventura explained afterward, that’s just the game of baseball sometimes.
“Baseball is if you get a guy and put him in the game in an unusual position, it’ll find him,” Ventura said. “Those situations of kind of redeem yourself of having a tough game, it always does that. It’s funny how it works out.”
Hudson was happy on the one hand.
“It was a blessing to come through,” Hudson said.
But on the other, he wasn’t going to easily forget his miscues at third base.
“It was a big win for us after the last two nights (losing,) but I got to make some defensive plays to keep us in ball games,” Hudson said. “(General manager) Kenny (Williams) when I signed over here, he didn’t say we’re hoping you can play. He asked me to play third base. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Right now, I’m not doing a good job of it.”
Ventura wasn’t so hard on Hudson. It was just a few weeks ago Hudson played third base for the first time in the majors after spending his entire career at second base. He’s played 1,268 games at second base, and Thursday was his 15th game at third base.
“He’s got a lot going on there from playing in the middle of the infield now to being over there,” Ventura said. “Especially squeezes and things are new to him. There’s a lot of stuff going on over there. I understand that. It’s a process with him, and we’re sticking with him.”
Hudson also attributed it to putting extra pressure on himself to impress his new teammates.
“Anybody going to a new place, you want to do well offense, defense, office job, whatever it may be,” Hudson said. “You want to make an impression. Sometimes you put a little more pressure on yourself than you should because you want to please everyone. Something goes wrong, ‘Oh, hell, it’s the new guy. The new guy’s messing up.’ You want to avoid that.’
For much of Thursday’s game, Hudson wasn’t able to avoid.
But when it mattered most, the new guy came through.