Tim Hudson AP

Tim Hudson’s fountain of youth keeps flowing

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SAN FRANCISCO – It should be obvious now which medieval helmet Michael Morse and Hunter Pence should order for Tim Hudson.

One in the shiny, comb-sided Spanish conquistador style – like the one Ponce de Leon wore while searching for the Fountain of Youth.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: Giants back to winning ways, shut out Cubs]

The difference is that Hudson actually has stumbled upon it. The 38-year-old right-hander dragged his repaired ankle and his sore hip to the mound Tuesday night and pitched like he was trying to finish chores before sundown. He scattered six hits over seven sprightly shutout innings and didn’t allow a runner to reach third base in the Giants’ 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night.

Hudson remained unbeaten (8-0) in 14 home starts over the past two seasons as a Giant and a Brave. He has a 1.92 ERA. He’s the first Giant to post a sub-2 mark through 10 starts since Dave LaPoint in 1985.

Did he know he was capable of this?

“Of course!” he said, with mock pride. “You know what, it’s early in the year (but) I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my season with a new team, new teammates and a new organization. I hope they don’t think I’ll be this good all year. Hopefully I can stay healthy, stay strong and keep on keepin’ on.”

They’re saying the Giants have the best record in the NL but no obvious All-Stars on their roster. If they picked sides now, Hudson would be an obvious choice to make it for the fourth time in his career.

“It’d be a great honor, especially coming off an injury wondering if I’d pitch again,” said Hudson, who was carted off on a stretcher last July in New York with a fractured ankle. “But it’s 10 starts. There’s 25 more.”

Always, the first and last caveat is health. Hudson was coming off a rain-shortened three-inning start at Coors Field in which he limited the Rockies to one run despite seven baserunners. That was his only test since skipping his previous turn with a strained left hip.

He said there was some accumulated rust, even if the Cubs didn’t make him pay for his mistakes.

“I actually got away with a couple pitches,” he said. “Guys made some good plays behind me, like they always do. I tried to do the same thing, just make the guys behind me look as good as they can and keep the pace up.”

Pablo Sandoval blooped a single to extend his streak to seven games with an RBI, three off the San Francisco-era record held by Jeff Kent and Matt Williams. Buster Posey didn’t get any hits to interrupt his slump, but he managed a pair of sacrifice flies.

Hudson didn’t need any more than that. He had no idea if this ranks as his best 10-start run to begin a season.

“From a command standpoint, though, it’s probably the best as far as throwing strikes and letting guys behind me make plays,” he said. “I don’t really try to overpower anybody. I don’t try to overthrow through my mechanics. Just let it flow and most of the time it’s been working out.”

And yes, he’s glad he came here. He has 44 strikeouts and just six walks in 70.1 innings, and the ballpark plays into that. So did Mike Olt’s double off the wall, which would’ve been out in most parks.

“AT&T Park, chalk it up,” Hudson said, grinning. “This is a great pitcher’s park, great weather. It’s a great place to pitch. It’s all positive and no negative. You can go out and challenge guys. I’ve got the confidence to attack the strike zone and not nibble so much.”

As for his hip, he said he didn’t have any issues with it. The reconstructed ankle does get cranky later in games, but he comes in early to get treatment and it’s “as 100 percent as it’s going to get, I think.”

The rest is fine tuning. And when you’ve driven a classic car long enough, you understand how to keep it running.

“I’m not going to kill myself on the side or long toss or try to throw 95 mph,” he said. “What I have is what I have.”

And what does he have, exactly?

“Smoke and mirrors, man,” he said, with another grin. “Smoke and mirrors.”

Another month like this and Hudson might see his reflection wearing an NL All-Star uniform. And maybe Ponce de Leon’s helmet, too.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.


MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.