Cox says Hudson will be Braves' opening day starter

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox said Tuesday that Tim Hudson will be the team's opening day starting pitcher.

The change in the rotation comes with the blessing of 2005 opening day starter John Smoltz, who says it is time to pass that honor to Hudson.

Hudson is scheduled to start in the April 3rd opener at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Smoltz will turn 39 on May 15th. In his return to a starter's role last season, he was the workhorse of the staff with a 14-and-7 record, 3.06 ERA and team-high totals of 33 games started and 229 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Smoltz finished last season with a sore shoulder. After the season he said he probably wouldn't have been able to pitch in the National League Championship Series if the Braves had advanced past Houston in the division series.

Smoltz said he feels fine following an offseason of rest, but concern about opening the season healthy led him to pull out of consideration for the United States' World Baseball Classic team.

Hudson was 14-and-9 with a 3.52 ERA in his first season with the Braves.

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