SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There are no accidents in Mike Murphy's clubhouse, where every uniform number and locker assignment comes with a subtle purpose. That was the case when Tim Hudson showed up at Scottsdale Stadium for the first time and found himself comfortably tucked in between Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
The Giants and their 2014 hopes might depend in large part on Hudson and his surgically repaired ankle fitting in just as seamlessly on the field. On Day 1, all the reports were positive.
"I feel like I'm right on schedule to be healthy for the start of the year," Hudson said Friday, as pitchers and catchers reported. "The ankle feels really good. It's definitely pretty close to 100 percent. It's not quite there yet, but we still have a few more weeks to get it there. I don't suspect it's going to be a problem."
Hudson fractured his right ankle in July, when New York Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. stepped on the back of Hudson's leg during a close play at first base. Manager Bruce Bochy said at FanFest that he expected to take it slowly with the 38-year-old, but Hudson hit the ground running this week. He had no limitations while running Thursday and said he threw his third bullpen session, putting him on a normal track for this time of year.
"It's responding really well," he said. "I don't think about it at all when I'm out there throwing and running around."
Hudson is part of the normal rotation this weekend and will throw off a mound Sunday. He's expected to be in the rotation when games begin later this month.
"He took a bullpen and looked good," Bochy said. "We think he'll be ready."
Hudson spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, but he's no stranger to the Phoenix area, having spent the beginning of his career with the A's. Despite what Hollywood has portrayed, those teams were led by the dominating trio of Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.
A decade later, the three are connected in a completely different way. Hudson called Zito before signing a two-year deal with the Giants in November and said the left-hander gave glowing reviews of the organization. Now back in Arizona, Hudson isn't far from Mulder, who has put his TV career on hold to attempt a comeback with the Los Angeles Angels.
"I thought he would get into modeling before trying baseball again," Hudson said, smiling.
The Giants have a Big Two right now, in Cain and Madison Bumgarner, and Hudson said knowing those two would be here, along with Lincecum, who re-signed in October, was a big reason why he chose to return to the West Coast.
"Anytime you come to San Francisco you're always thinking about tough starting pitching," he said. "You know, they're pretty good. It was always fun sitting in the other dugout and watching these guys pitch."
It surely wasn't fun facing all of his new teammates, including catcher Buster Posey, a Florida State product. Hudson, a huge college football fan, wore an Auburn sweatshirt as he greeted new teammates for the first time.
"Everybody has their faults," he joked, glancing toward Posey's locker.
"I feel amazing, especially the shoulder," Sanchez said. "You have to work for this, especially with what happened last year. Last year was a learning season. I learned a lot about how I have to be in shape and be ready."
Sanchez hit just .248 last season and seemed to take a step back defensively, but he enters camp as the backup to Posey, and the Giants are pleased with the steps he took in the offseason.
"Hector looks great," Bochy said. "It's nice to see Hector take that next step and show some ownership on coming to camp in good shape."
For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants.