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Daniel Hudson returns to Washington Nationals’ bullpen after Paternity Leave

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Daniel Hudson returned to the Nationals’ bullpen in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Cardinals and earned the save in the 3-1 win in Game 2 of the NLCS.

League Championship Series - Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

Believe it or not, and it’s not really hard to believe these days, there really were some people who were critical of reliever Daniel Hudson for going on Paternity Leave and for being away from Washington’s Nationals during the NLCS, though his manager, Davey Martinez, made it clear on Friday that the team was 100% behind his decision to be with his family.

“We’re going to miss him today,” the second-year skipper told reporters. “He’s going to try to get back here possibly tomorrow. But for me I told him, I said, hey, family’s always first. I mean, I get it, I understand. The timing didn’t work out like we thought, baby wasn’t ready to come out. So we get him back when we get him back.”

Without Hudson, who posted a 1.44 ERA, four walks, 23 Ks, a .200/.237/.356 line against, and six saves in 24 games and 25 innings pitched after he was acquired from Toronto at the July deadline, and had tossed 3 23 scoreless this October, Martinez sent Sean Doolittle out for 1 13 scoreless in relief of Aníbal Sánchez, who took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in the 2-0 win.

After the game, Martinez said that Hudson was on the way to St. Louis to join the team for the second game of the series.

“Yeah, he’s got a 6 o’clock flight, he’ll be here for the game,” Martinez said.

In his pregame press conference on Saturday afternoon, he said he’d texted Hudson with advice on a name for his new daughter.

“I never missed any of my kids’ births,” Martinez said. “I think that’s important. I told them that. Because, hey, believe it or not, he was — he wanted to be with the team, and I told him I think that it’s important that you’re with your wife, it’s a big moment in your family, I know you have other kids, but it’s huge. You got to be supportive and we get it, I understand, and hopefully the baby cooperates ... which she didn’t, little stubborn little thing. But he’s here today and I told him that his teammates will pick him up and we’ll be okay.

“I actually, I told him, I texted him last night and I said, ‘Hey, I got a name for your little girl, ... Anibella Sean Hudson.’”

Hudson and his wife did not take Martinez’s advice on the name, however.

“Yeah, baby’s name is Millie. M-I-L-L-I-E,” Hudson said once he returned to the team.

“She’s doing great, mom’s doing great. Thank you, everybody, for nice words and gestures the last 24, 36 hours, it’s been awesome.

“Yeah, we, obviously her due date was originally the 14th. Once we kind of had an idea of a playoff schedule if we got past the Wild Card round who we were going to play, obviously Game 5 if we got to it in Los Angeles it was a little more convenient for me to get home. So we tried to schedule an induction for the 10th, which was yesterday. Just kind of made sense to go in between. If we were able to advance, obviously the 14th and my first two kids came a little bit later than their due date, so if you push it back a couple days you’re looking at maybe Game 6, Game 7 of a championship series. I figure Game 1 is a little bit better miss than an elimination game.

“So that’s the way we tried to plan it. Obviously things changed. Thursday morning we were trying to see if we could get in early for the induction and the way it works, people that are doing natural birth come first, so we couldn’t get a bed until yesterday afternoon, yesterday evening. So that’s kind of the time line and that’s how it went. It’s just the way -- you try to plan something and everything goes crazy, so.”

And the way the Nationals and his manager handled the situation?

“My wife’s, she’s a rock star, she’s been around obviously the game just as long as I have,” Hudson explained.

“She knows kind of what’s going on. Obviously we didn’t exactly plan to have a baby in the middle of the playoffs, but like you said, you plan something and stuff goes crazy.

“So everybody within the Nationals’ organization was completely 100 percent on board with our plan, and really thank [GM Mike Rizzo] and Davey for being understanding, and all the guys as well. I got lots of outpours of love and great messages I got yesterday. It was really, really nice to get those and really appreciate all the support.”

As for the negative reactions?

“I’m not on social media anymore,” Hudson said. “I got rid of it a couple years ago. It’s just something, a decision I made to try to focus myself one more positive stuff in my life.

“Obviously it’s great tool. We were made aware of a lot of stuff that was going on, obviously, watching the game it was hard to ignore. I mean, I went, I was just telling somebody, I went from not having a job on March 21st to this huge national conversation on family values going into the playoffs, like, hey, life comes at you fast, man, like I don’t know how that happened and how I became the face for whatever conversation was going on.

“Everybody’s got their opinions, man, and I really value my family and my family time. And like I said, the support I got from this organization, and most people, obviously, we were made aware of a lot of negative comments, but everybody’s got their opinions and everybody’s got their own priorities. And this organization was a hundred percent on board with what my priorities are and I’m really appreciative of that.”

The impact Hudson has had on the organization since he was acquired at the deadline, has been equally appreciated, Martinez said, and his impact has been immeasurable.

“Yeah, we, [Rizzo] traded for him, we got him, we knew he was having a pretty good year with Toronto, but we haven’t -- I only saw videos of him at that point. So we had to make sure that -- and he was really good, all year long he was really good with inherited runners, which we struggled at. So I think the first I put him in was with guys on base and he did really well in Arizona. So I kind of eased his way. And by having conversations with him, I asked him how much has he pitched in the 9th inning and without hesitation he says, ‘Hey, if you need me in the 7th, 8th, 9th, I’ll be ready to go.’

“And he’s been that guy. Whenever he’s called upon, he’s ready to go and he’s a guy that throws strikes, attacks the strike zone, and he’s been very good for us.”

Hudson said he was equally appreciative of the opportunity he got to be part of a special group of players.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a very resilient group,” he said. “How many times everybody talks about the record that they started off with and all the wins that were accrued after that and best team in baseball for however long. And it just shows the amount of fight ... in all these guys and I think it goes to, it’s a testament of a lot of those guys. And they have been around the game for a long time, they know exactly what needs to be done, there’s no panic ever.

“Obviously, going down early against the [Brewers] and then against the [Dodgers], you just see the fight in these guys and they, everybody wants to just kind of pass the baton and keep the ball rolling for everybody else.”

So he went with Millie this time, but if there’s another addition to the Hudson family, will the name Anibella Sean be considered?

“I don’t --,” Hudson started before breaking into a laugh.

“Yeah, that, Davey, that was a funny message he sent me last night. Yeah, we were actually undecided on a name at that point. We didn’t actually figure out a name until we went to bed last night. We kind of finally decided on Millie and, yeah, my wife got a good kick out of that, that was pretty funny.”

Hudson came on with one out in the ninth in Saturday afternoon’s game and got the last two outs to lock down the Nationals’ second straight win over the Cardinals.