The Arizona Diamondbacks are winning the NL West. After going 65-97 to finish 27 games behind the San Francisco Giants last season, the D-backs have already won 82 games this season and entering Thursday held a healthy seven-game lead over the defending World Series champs. Arizona's pitching has been critical to its success and Daniel Hudson has been an instrumental part of that equation.
Hudson was a fifth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2008 out of Old Dominion University. Traded by Chicago to Arizona at the July deadline last season, Hudson immediately flourished in the desert, going 7-1 with the Diamondbacks with a 1.69 ERA while allowing just 51 hits in 79.2 innings. This season, Hudson and teammate Ian Kennedy have led the Diamondbacks' rotation on the march to an NL West title for Arizona, where there's a pool in the outfield and several unique slogans that have served as rallying cries.
With Hudson scheduled to pitch Friday against the Padres, one day before the Diamondbacks honor the 10-year anniversary of their 2001 World Series championship team that featured Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, Hudson joined me for an interview via Twitter. As many of his fans followed, we had this conversation. It's the Daniel Hudson Twitterview, in 140 characters or fewer.
SB: #DBacks won 65 games last year & were 27 back of #SFGiants. Now AZ has won 82 games & leads by 7. What happened?
DH: I think a change of attitude instilled by our great coaching staff and everyone counting us out in spring training.
SB: Counted out in spring training? Was that a sore spot for the team?
DH: absolutely! We had a lot of new faces in spring and everyone picked us to finish last again, so our motto was "why not us?"
SB: What is it like to play for Kirk Gibson?
DH: it's great. His grittiness and feisty attitude has definitely rubbed off on us. We always expect to comeback and win.
SB: Seriously, does anyone in the #DBacks clubhouse ever do the fist-pump imitation of him rounding bases after '88 W.S. HR?
DH: haha, I've never seen anyone do it, but JJ (Putz) and Kelly Johnson made ties for a roadtrip with him from his gillete commercial picture of him sitting in a bath tub talking about how good the deodorant is! Players and coaches all wore them.
SB: #SFGiants had "fearthebeard" last yr. #DBacks have #FearTheRedBeard this yr. Can you explain for East Coast fans?
DH: Ian Kennedy has brown hair, but somehow his beard is all red, not a brown hair in it. 18 wins and his beard got a following.
SB: So his genetic oddity has become a #DBacks rallying cry? With 18 wins it must be working, right?
DH: lol not so much us, but the fans seem to like it. #feartheredbeard signs are hilarious! and yes. When you win 18 games, you have to point at something for your success, and it's definitely the #redbeard lol
SB: You were 7-1 with #DBacks last year. You're 15-9 so far this year. Why has AZ been such a good fit for you?
DH: coming over with a clean slate and no expectations was a big part of it. I got called up by sox to replace (Jake) Peavy. Tough shoes to fill, and I struggled and got away from who I was as a pitcher. Getting "me" back was big for me and dbacks staff.
SB: You got your first MLB hit & RBI in #DBacks debut last August. Is that why your Twitter avatar is a pic of you hitting?
DH: I was lucky enough to have a dbacks photographer snap a pic as I hit my first HR. So I thought I'd like to show it off haha
SB: It could work as a visualization technique for you: see your avatar pic in your head every time you step into the box!
DH: yep! As long as I don't have to bunt ... I want to swing it!
SB: You played Little League baseball with Justin Upton in Virginia. Who was the better player back then?
DH: Justin. I was (still am) really slow, confined to playing 1B. But I gave him some protection in the lineup!
SB: Did you pitch in Little League -- or just rake as a slow-footed 1B type?
DH: I did both. Usually would pitch until I hit a pitch count limit, then would go play first for a few games.
SB: You were a star pitcher at Old Dominion University. So was Justin Verlander. What's the deal with ODU baseball?
DH: go monarchs! Great baseball tradition. Some really good teams in the 80s and 90s. I wasn't highly recruited out of high school and wanted to go somewhere where I would pitch from day one, and odu gave me that opportunity and I ran with it.
SB: Dan, your Twitter flow was heavy Fantasy Football this week. Is that a big deal among the #DBacks?
DH: Yeah I think a lot of teams do it. It's a lot of fun to go through the draft and whatnot with your friends and teammates and I wanted to brag a little bit because I think my team is awesome!
SB: So you're a Mel Kiper Jr, Jr? Fantasy Football does seem big in MLB clubhouses. Why is that?
DH: I think a lot of guys are football fans, and it's a good way to stay in touch and competitive with teammates in offseason
SB: You play in a #DBacks ballpark that has a pool in the outfield. What's the strangest thing you've ever seen out there?
DH: love the pool! Wasn't there but saw the guy make the diving catch into it during the HR derby. That was awesome!
SB: Do players ever actually hang out in that pool before the park opens or is it just a gimmick for the fans?
DH: for the fans. But the brewers bullpen guys jumped in after conditioning in the outfield one day. It's hot with the roof open
SB: I saw you tweeted a picture of a giant snake at your feet while you were golfing last week. Some kind of omen?
DH: definitely a good omen. Just a fellow diamondback wishing us good luck before we played our series in San Fran!!
SB: Good luck #DBacks from here as well, Dan. Thanks for your time & thanks to all of you fans who followed the Dan Hudson Twitterview!
DH: no problem! Thanks for the questions and thanks to everyone for following!! #GoDbacks #FearTheRedBeard #winthewest
You can follow Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Hudson on Twitter: @DHuddy41.
You can follow Baseball Tonight's Steve Berthiaume on Twitter: @SBerthiaumeESPN.