Tim Hudson may want to get back to Atlanta as soon as possible -- the South Atlantic League hasn't been particularly welcoming.
Hudson was roughed up in his second rehab start for Class A Rome, allowing five runs over four innings and was again outpitched by 24-year-old Caleb Cotham as Charleston beat the host Braves, 9-3.
"I feel pretty good where I'm at, I'm just glad I'm not in A ball anymore," Hudson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Thursday. "I'd probably never get back to the big leagues."
Charleston cleanup hitter Tyler Austin hit a pair of home runs, Dante Bichette Jr. added three hits and Mason Williams singled twice and plated a run in support of Cotham, who allowed two runs on six hits over five innings for his first win of the year.
"Honestly, it's an unbelievable experience," Austin, a Conyers, Ga., native said of facing Hudson. "I know it's not the best circumstance for him, but I've grown up watching the Braves and grown up following him, so it's awesome to come out here and face him. I went my whole life watching him, so it's a lot of fun."
Hudson, who began the season on the disabled list following back surgery, is scheduled to make at least a few more rehab starts, most likely with Triple-A Gwinnett. He's aiming for a late April or early May return to Atlanta.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, pitching coach Roger McDowell and longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox, now a team advisor, all attended Thursday's rehab start.
"His sinker was working," Gonzalez told the Journal Constitution.
Hudson's line looked a little worse for wear -- many of his hits were of the seeing-eye variety, one run-scoring hit was a questionable fair ball down the line in right field and on another, Hudson avoided getting into a tag play at the plate to avoid further injury.
"For the most part I feel pretty good where I'm at physically, just got to make some better pitches," Hudson told the paper. "Obviously that's going to come as I have more time on the mound and more bullpen [sessions], working on that kind of stuff on the side."
Hudson said his back felt good and he's happy with his overall progress. He stayed late at the ballpark to sign autographs for Rome fans as well.
"Obviously the results from these couple starts down here don't look [good]," Hudson told the paper. "But I think once the bell rings and I feel like I'm ready to go, it'll be good."
Bichette, the Yankees' top pick in last year's Draft, went 3-for-4 and now has four hits this season off of Hudson -- he singled twice against the National League All-Star on April 7, when Hudson gave up two runs on four hits over three innings in his first Minor League start.
Austin hit an RBI triple to deep center off Hudson in that game and was thrown out at the plate on the play.
"Oh yeah, that was an unbelievable experience," Austin said of the triple. "I don't know what to say, it was awesome."
Neither of Austin's longballs came against Hudson on Thursday, though -- he connected in the seventh off Navery Moore and again in the ninth against Wilson Rivera, his first two homers of the season.
"Got a good pitch, put a good swing on it, felt pretty good all night," Austin said. "I didn't have much to show for it the first three at-bats, but I put something together in those last two. I had a good night."
Bichette, the son of longtime Major Leaguer Dante Bichette, finished 3-for-4 with a double, two runs, an RBI and a walk to boost his average on the season to .345.
"He's honestly one of the best players I've ever played with," Austin said. "Great guy on the field and off the field, not one negative thing I can say about him."
Charleston's lineup features a bevy of the Yankees' top prospects: Williams (No. 4), Cito Culver (9), Bichette (8), Austin (15), Ben Gamel (18) and Angelo Gumbs (17) are a tough 1-6 for pitchers, Hudson included.
"We can go all the way, our lineup has so much talent," Austin said. "Our whole team is nothing but talent. We play together good, we all bond well, we play as a team, and I feel like at every level we go to, we can go all the way."
Austin said the key to hitting Hudson was to keep the same approach.
"It's just we're steady with out approach, not doing too much, doing the same thing as if it was anyone else on the mound," he said. "It worked out well for us."
And as for playing in two Hudson rehabs, Austin said he and the RiverDogs soaked it all in.
"You don't get to be a part of that much," he said. "It was an great experience with the fans out there, just a great atmosphere all around tonight."