EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth installment in a series of stories catching up with some local athletes who are, or have been playing sports at the professional level and how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back daily for the next athlete.
Injury slowed the progression of Bryan Hudson’s career in 2019.
The 2015 Alton High grad suffered a fractured L4 vertebrae of the lumbar spine in his back. He was 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA in just 11 games pitched and 9 starts in ‘19 between Advanced Class A Myrtle Beach and the Arizona Rookie League in the Chicago Cubs organization.
The 23-year-old, 6-foot-8, 220-pound southpaw was anxious to get his career back on track in 2020 after rehabbing. Now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all that is on hold as he’s back home in Godfrey waiting to see the next direction of his career.
“It was tough, especially once you got mentally prepared,” Hudson said. “We were all amped up in that full baseball mindset, ready to go. When it all gets shut down like that it’s weird because you’ve never been through anything like that. Some of the ways I’m coping with it is trying to stay busy, doing baseball stuff and gaining velocity, but saving bullets as well. I don’t want to blow it out not knowing when I’m going to be playing again.”
He wasn’t even sure where he would be designated for the season. Spring training was going to play big in that decision.
“I have no clue where I was going to be designated this year and that’s why I was so excited and ready for the season,” Hudson said. “I could have gone to Double A, or after injuries last year there was a possibility I’d go back to Myrtle Beach. It was a prove-myself spring training.”
Hudson had really been focusing on strengthening his back after the injury entering the spring.
“Last year with my back injury, when I started working out again I worked into it slowly and did a lot of strengthening stuff to make sure it didn’t happen again,” he said. “I did a lot of core strength training and middle abdomen area. A lot of hip mobility as well, that was a very key part of it.”
When the decision came down on the stay-at-home directive and the baseball season would be postponed, he was dumbfounded much like the rest of the nation.
“I was a little worried, because I didn’t know when I was going to get to play again,” he said. “A lot of us didn’t know what was going to happen with our job security. Other than that I was just dumbfounded on the situation. They were telling us as much as they knew and they didn’t know much when the shutdown first happened. It was very confusing for all of us.”
The Cubs organization uses a phone app to communicate with their players. A throwing and workout regimen is released by the team and the players follow those instructions individually. The players then give feedback on how they feel after throwing.
Everyone was told to live where they were most comfortable, so Hudson returned to Godfrey.
“Since the shutdown I’ve been staying home as much as possible, going fishing here and there,” he said. “The majority of time I get out to workout and throw and that’s most of my day. It’s a lot of baseball street catch and going to local parks and throwing where you can.”
In some ways it has simplified the game for him and let him find the enjoyment of a childhood sport rather than the business it’s become for him.
“It’s cool because I get to call my buddies when I don’t have a steady throwing partner and get to go play catch with all of them,” Hudson said. “It definitely brings back good memories. Some of the guys I’m playing catch with haven’t thrown in awhile, so it’s fun, it brings back good memories for both of us.”
Hudson’s minor league statistics
W L ERA G GS IP BB SO
Minors Career 22 20 4.43 76 69 339.1 161 237