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Thursday May 26th, 2016 3:00AM

Hudson hopes to return with Braves next year

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson says he plans to return next season from right ankle surgery and hopes he's still pitching for the Atlanta Braves.

Hudson, 38, sat in the clubhouse Friday waiting to have his cast and staples removed and replaced with a walking boot. He underwent season-ending surgery two weeks ago and begins treatment soon.

Hudson says the Braves, his team since 2005, need to fully gauge his health before discussing another contract. The right-hander agrees.

"Yeah, I think it's one of those things where we're both on the same page," he said. "They want to see how I bounce back from this and how I feel. I haven't spoken to them personally, but that's just kind of the common sense thing.

"I want to know if I'm healthy and I want to know that this thing's right. If I am, then I think it's - I know I'll continue playing, but hopefully it's here."

Hudson broke his ankle on July 24 at New York when Eric Young Jr. of the Mets inadvertently stepped on the back of his lower right leg while the pitcher was covering first base.

"I don't feel like this is going to really slow down my career at all," Hudson said. "I feel like - obviously, the timing isn't great with when it happened - but I feel like my track record is good enough. If I feel like this thing is back to 100 percent, I definitely want to keep playing."

After going 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA this season, Hudson is 205-111 in a 14-year career. His .649 winning percentage ranks 10th-best among pitchers with at least 300 career decisions.

Hudson's four-year, $36 million contract expires at the end of the season.

After snapping a career-worst 10-game winless streak with a 13-4 victory July 6 at Philadelphia, Hudson went 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his past four starts.

He believes he will be ready for the start of spring training in February.

"We're looking at three to four months," he said, "and I should be back like new."
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