Note: This column was originally published in the Greenfield Recorder on Jan. 22, 2018
Jaywalking: Hudson working on pro diamond
By JASON BUTYNSKI for the Greenfield Recorder
If you happened to be looking closely at the newspaper on Jan. 10, you may have seen several items regarding the Boston Red Sox in the Scoreboard Page "Transactions."
You were probably hoping to see an announcement that the Red Sox had finally signed J.D. Martinez to fill the power-hitting void that plagued the team last season. Sure, no one wants to overpay in free agency, but it would be nice to have a guy in the middle of the lineup who could swat a few bombs over the Green Monster.
Well, the Red Sox did not sign anyone who would be directly responsible for planting baseballs in the bleachers, but they did ink a few people who might indirectly help the cause. Among the transactions announced that day were a pair of strength-and-conditioning coaches, including Greenfield's very own Joe Hudson.
Hudson, a former Greenfield High School and Plymouth State University pitcher, was hired by the organization and will head off to Fort Meyers, Fla., for Spring Training next month before spending the regular season in either Salem, Va., with the Red Sox high-A Minor League team, or in Greenville, S.C., with the Red Sox full-season low-A team.
"I'm very excited," Hudson said of starting his new job. "It's a cool opportunity. It's something a little piece of me has always wanted to get back into. I will be working with the best of the best."
Hudson has spent the past three years working for AP (Advanced Performance) Academy, with locations in East Longmeadow and Palmer. After graduating from Plymouth State, Hudson began working for the Philadelphia Phillies as a strength-and-conditioning coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters in the short-season New York Penn League.
After one season, Hudson decided to go back to school to get his Master's Degree, returning to the Pioneer Valley to attend Springfield College. During his time in college, Hudson did some work for the Chicago Cubs, who sent him to Arizona. There he worked for one of the Cubs' Rookie League teams before moving back to the area and beginning working for Advanced Performance, where he has been since 2015, serving as the Director of Sports Performance. The company is owned by Pete Fatse, who's brother Andrew Fatse played Tri-County League summer ball with Hudson for Teddy Bear Pools years ago.
"I'm responsible for overseeing all of our strength staff," Hudson said. "That includes working with high school and youth athletes, and working with pro guys and college guys who come in during the offseason."
When Hudson began at AP Academy, it primarily served as a developmental program for top-level baseball players. Hudson said that the company has travel baseball teams and players in the program have a better than 99 percent chance of landing on a college roster. Clients include current Major League player Nick Ahmed (who went to East Longmeadow High School) of the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as Cathedral alum Frank Crinella (who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles) and Northampton native Eric Ostberg (who was drafted in the 13th round by the Tampa Bay Rays this past June). That's just to name a few.
The company moved to expand and offer strength and conditioning for athletes, rather than just skills, and Hudson was a major factor in that. AP Academy bought out another company and opened the new location in East Longmeadow. That has also helped open things up to players in other sports, and Hudson said the East Longmeadow facility has become a hotbed for athletes playing "stick sports" such as hockey and lacrosse. In fact, current Boston Bruins forward Frank Vatrano, from East Longmeadow, trains at the facility when he is home in the summer.
Hudson and his wife of two-plus years Meghan (Healy) Hudson of Greenfield bought a home in Springfield and planned to build their life, but Hudson said he has always had an itch to get back to working with a professional team. He said that now was probably his best chance, and when he learned of openings with the Red Sox, he could not pass up the chance to apply. He said the interview went great and it seemed to be a great fit for both the organization and for him, and shortly after that, he was hired.
He now prepares to head to Florida with the team in a month.
"Everything starts pretty early in the morning during Spring Training," Hudson said. "We go through team stretches and work with players in the weight room, then work with players on the field helping them with their conditioning, strength, speed and agility."
When the regular season begins, Hudson said his day will start around noon and include working with the players prior to games, then he'll be on the bench during all the games. He said his duties include working with pitchers after starts to help them in their recovery process.
"During the season you live the same life as the players and the staff," he explained. "You are on all the road trips, and your day starts around noon and you are there until after the game ends."
As for his wife, Meghan is currently a nurse at Holyoke Medical Center but she is going to start doing travel nursing, which will allow her to move with him to whichever city he winds up in. During the 5½ months Hudson is off, they will live at home.
And just like the players, Hudson said if things go well, he can progress through the organization. Any promotion would also mean working with a team closer to home.
"This is a great opportunity, it gives me the chance to continue to advance my career," he concluded. "The goal for me, professionally, is to become a coordinator or a Big League strength coach. This gives me the chance to fulfill that dream."
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