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07/02/09 7:10 PM ET

Hudson tunes up for July 19 rehab start

Escobar returns, while McLouth sits out fifth straight game

ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson has waited nearly 11 full months for the opportunity to pitch in a game again. Provided this comparison, Nate McLouth could certainly live with Braves manager Bobby Cox's decision to keep him sidelined for one more day.

Hudson and McLouth were the focus of the multiple health-related developments that occurred before the Braves concluded their three-game series at Turner Field on Thursday night.

With his sore right hip flexor allowing him the lateral movement he needs from a defensive perspective, shortstop Yunel Escobar returned to the lineup Thursday for the first time in exactly a week. But despite the fact that he was able to run and take batting practice without any discomfort, McLouth found himself missing his fifth consecutive start with a strained left hamstring.

"I'm just giving him as much time as I can," Cox said of McLouth, who hasn't played since straining his hamstring during the eighth inning of Friday night's game against the Red Sox.

While McLouth remains hopeful that he'll be back in the lineup for Friday night's series opener in Washington, Hudson realizes he's going to remain patient for at least another six weeks, while completing the final steps of his Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery rehab process.

Hudson took his latest step Thursday afternoon with a 90-pitch bullpen session that led Cox to say, "he's got Major League stuff right now." The 33-year-old right-hander will begin throwing batting practice Monday at Wrigley Field in preparation for July 19, when he'll make his first Minor League rehab start with Class A Myrtle Beach.

"I'm done with all of the big stuff now," Hudson said. "Everything I threw today was with pretty much everything I've got. Now I've just got to get ready to pitch."

With his current rehab schedule, Hudson is slated to make his first six-inning rehab start Aug. 20. With this in mind, the veteran hurler said that his earliest possible return to Atlanta's rotation would likely be Aug. 25.

But at the same time, Hudson understands the possibility that the Braves would choose to wait another week to bring him back when the rosters expand in September.

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