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Hudson rewards Dodgers for their risk

Hudson rewards Dodgers for risk

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LOS ANGELES -- For all the time and effort spent during the offseason rebuilding the Dodgers' roster, the biggest change from last year has been the addition of second baseman Orlando Hudson.

He was damaged goods all winter after major wrist surgery, and that scared away most other clubs, but he never left the Dodgers' radar, and when he started to show he was healing, general manager Ned Colletti grabbed him for the bargain price of $3.38 million, plus incentives.

The Dodgers are getting huge returns on the investment. The wrist hasn't stopped Hudson from flashing that Gold Glove defense, as he did Tuesday night with two circus catches that saved potentially game-tying runs.

And his offense is even better than advertised. The 12-game home win streak out of the gate has been accompanied by a 12-game home hitting streak for Hudson, who is 21-for-47 (.447) at Dodger Stadium, the highest home batting average in the league. His career average at Dodger Stadium is .362.

In his first home game for the Dodgers, he had the club's first cycle in 39 years. Overall, he's hitting .333, tied for eighth in the league. He's also tied for the league lead with 38 hits, is tied for fourth with 22 runs scored, tied for fifth with 60 total bases and he's played every game.

"A player with this guy's ability and experience, he's made a huge difference for us," manager Joe Torre said.

Hudson has a current seven-game hitting streak. He took over the second-base position from the retired Jeff Kent and forced Blake DeWitt right back to the Minor Leagues.

Most important, he's provided Torre with an ideal No. 2 hitter, something the Dodgers struggled to find all last year, when they used 11 of them, led by Andre Ethier's 80 starts. They've used only two this year, Hudson batting there in all but one start.

"When I rest Raffy [leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal], I could move Hudson up [he did that once], but I want to leave him in that spot," Torre said. "He seems to be thriving there. I'm comfortable with it like that. We talk about protecting Manny [Ramirez] with a hitter behind him. More than any other protection for Manny is to have two guys on base when he comes up."

The Dodgers have scored 27 first-inning run in 24 games and Hudson has scored seven of them.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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