Notes: Hudson's work drawing raves

Notes: Hudson's work drawing raves

WASHINGTON -- Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said right-hander Tim Hudson's stuff has been "dynamite" and "nasty" so far this season. The National League certainly agreed with him.

The Bank of America presented the National League Player of the Week award to Hudson Monday thanks to his strong effort for the week of April 9-15. The right-hander went 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA in 14 innings, a dominant early-season performance.

"He's throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead of the hitters, keeping the ball down," Cox said. "He's got all that natural movement. He's got nasty stuff."

Hudson struck out 11 and walked five in the two games. He threw seven shutout innings against the Nationals on Tuesday; Hudson then allowed only one earned run in a seven-inning stint against the Astros on Sunday.

Hudson struggled at times last year, finishing with a 13-12 record and a 4.86 ERA in 35 starts. But he has gotten off to a much better start this season. He's 2-0 with an 0.86 ERA, having allowed only two earned runs in 21 innings. In addition, Hudson has walked 16 and struck out nine.

"He's hard to hit," Cox said. "He was that way all spring. He's got dynamite stuff."

A good start: Even though it's early in the season, Cox is glad to see his Braves start better than they did last year.

The Braves led the National League East with an 8-3 record entering Monday. They stumbled to a 5-6 start last year and ended up 79-83.

But Cox said the good start, especially in the cold weather, can help bolster his team's confidence.

"Everybody wants to start off with a good record, and we were no different," Cox said. "It's not the most important thing, but you can lose division titles and things early in the year just as you can late in the year. It's always good. I'm happy as heck."

Getting better: Right-hander Lance Cormier is scheduled to have throwing sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, with a possible Minor League rehab assignment Sunday.

Cormier has been on the disabled list with a strained right triceps suffered March 26. Cox said he's at least 10 more days -- and possibly two weeks -- away from returning.

The 26-year old Cormier went 4-5 with a 4.89 ERA in 29 games last year.

Nothing new with Aybar: The Braves connected with infielder Willy Aybar, whose three-game suspension for violating team policy runs through Tuesday's game with Washington.

Aybar is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right hand, and he didn't show up for Saturday's game with Florida. The same thing happened Sunday, and that's when the Braves made the move to suspend him.

"We've been in touch with him," Cox said. "He just didn't show up."

Turning back the clock: Several of the Braves sat in the locker room a few hours before Monday's game and watched the highlight film of the 1995 World Series, where Atlanta beat Cleveland in six games.

Even though third baseman Chipper Jones and pitcher John Smoltz are the only two players on this year's team remaining from that championship team, the Braves clearly enjoyed watching.

They also got on Jones a little bit, teasing the baby-faced veteran for what he looked like back then. But he didn't mind.

"It's kind of like watching an inspirational movie, I guess you could say," Jones said. "It's always fun to reminisce. I'm sure that each and every guy in here wants to experience what [Smoltz] and I did that night."

The weather stays cold: The Braves, like many teams, continue to battle cold weather in the first part of the season.

Monday's game in Washington featured a first-pitch temperature of 47 degrees with wind gusts of more than 40 mph at the circular RFK Stadium.

"I'll make it pretty obvious and say you're pitching with a glass ball, [that's what] it feels like sometimes," said Braves reliever Bob Wickman.

Coming up: Veteran right-hander Smoltz (1-1, 3.15 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season in the finale of the brief two-game series. He'll take on Washington right-hander Jerome Williams (0-2, 4.91), another of the Nationals' young pitchers who's learning on the job.

Jeff Siedel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.