NEW YORK -- As Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez prepared for Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Mets, his thoughts remained with Tim Hudson, who suffered a season-ending injury when he fractured his right ankle during the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 8-2 win.
"You think about him, and the competitor that he is and what he brings to our club," Gonzalez said. "I think we need to rally behind this as a team and as a pitching staff. We're going to miss him, but we've got a good club."
While Hudson did not return to Citi Field on Thursday, he was planning to fly back with the club to Atlanta after the game. He will undergo surgery when the swelling around his ankle subsides and then begin a rehab process with the hope of being healthy by the start of next season.
Time will tell exactly what the future holds for Hudson, who is in the final year of his contract. But Gonzalez is hoping the 38-year-old will spend the remainder of this season continuing to serve as a positive influence on his teammates.
When Hudson returned to the team's hotel in Manhattan late Wednesday night, he was greeted by a line of teammates who offered their well wishes.
"I told him last night, 'I want you around with the crutches or the boot or whatever it is,'" Gonzalez said. "I told him I want him there to be supportive. I said, 'I'll even let you manage a couple of games if you want.' He said, 'Oh no, I don't want to do that.'"
Hudson suffered the injury while covering first base in the eighth after Eric Young's one-out grounder bounced off Freddie Freeman's chest. After receiving Freeman's feed in time to record the out, Hudson kept his right foot in the middle of the bag long enough for Young to crush his ankle.
Young showed great sportsmanship as he remained by Hudson's side until the Braves pitcher was carted off the field. Gonzalez and many of the Braves have said this was simply a freak accident that was not influenced by even a hint of ill intent on Young's part.
"I'm sure there are people that think it was done on purpose," Gonzalez said. "It would be asinine to think that. It's a bang-bang play over there. He had nowhere to go. Huddy had nowhere to go. It just happens."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was among the many figures from around Major League Baseball who expressed concern for Hudson after watching what had the makings to be a routine out evolve into an ugly scene.
"It's sad, sickening -- gives you a bad feeling," Leyland said. "What a shame. It's amazing how fragile it is, because that's something you work on on the first day of Spring Training. It's like taking a drink of water. He just got in the middle of the bag and the timing was exactly wrong, instead of right, I should say. The guy just happened to be there at the exact time. It was a sad thing."