NEW YORK -- Those who have stuck with the belief that starting pitchers are not capable of serving as clubhouse leaders have not seen the tremendous influence Tim Hudson has had on his Braves teammates over the past few years.
Hudson has been one of the most beloved members of the Braves' organization since he arrived in Atlanta before the start of the 2005 season. His competitive fire has proven infectious when he has been on the mound and his easy-going, light-hearted personality has kept his teammates loose during the course of a long season.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand the utter devastation the Braves were feeling on Wednesday night after watching Hudson suffer a horrific season-ending right ankle injury in the eighth inning of an 8-2 win over the Mets.
"He's the veteran presence that people go to, he's Tim Hudson," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "That guy has 200 wins, and he's the best teammate you're ever going to have. Everybody in here feels bad for him."
Prayers to Huddy and his family, he will be back! You know he will!!- Tom Glavine (@Tom_Glavine) July 25, 2013
Approximately 30 minutes after the game, the Braves announced Hudson had fractured his right ankle and will undergo surgery in Atlanta once the swelling subsides. Now the only hope is that the 38-year-old free-agent-to-be will recover this offseason and have an opportunity to continue pitching effectively next year.
"Huddy is such a leader in the clubhouse, on the field and in the dugout when he's not pitching," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "This is tough one."
Hudson suffered the injury when his right ankle was trampled by Eric Young Jr. on a bang-bang play at first base. After Young's grounder bounced off Freddie Freeman's chest, Hudson raced to the bag in time to retire the Mets' outfielder. But his foot remained on the bag a split second too long.
"I ran down there as quick as I could," McCann said. "You could tell he was in pain. He's one of the toughest guys you're ever going to meet. So if he's laying down there, that means he's hurt."
Hoping and praying for the best possible news for Huddy! Didn't look good but hopefully not as bad as video showed. Luh ya bruh!- Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) July 25, 2013
Hudson hopped once with all his weight on his left leg before falling to the ground. The veteran showed obvious signs of pain as he remained on the ground until medical personnel arrived and carted him to the clubhouse.
"He was in disbelief and obviously in a lot of pain," Uggla said. "You could just see the thoughts going through his head, like this is unbelievable and this can't be happening. I know he was in a lot of pain."
Uggla and Gonzalez both said Young was very apologetic and emotional as he stayed at the side of Hudson, who remained on the ground for nearly eight minutes.
"EY is just a great dude," Uggla said. "He plays the game hard in the right way. He's just one of those guys that you love him. You could see how devastated and upset he was that he was the one who stepped on him. It was just one of those freak accident plays."
"I just apologized to him, told him it was an accident," Young said. "Obviously, I wasn't trying to hurt him on the play. He just told me to keep my head up and keep playing the game the hard way and the right way. He said there was nothing I can do about it. That made me feel somewhat better, but still bummed that he's going to be out for a while."
Hudson's spot in the rotation will likely be filled by Brandon Beachy, who allowed one run in six innings during what could have been his final Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday night. Beachy, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, would be on schedule to fill Hudson's next turn in the rotation on Monday night against the Rockies.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.