Tim Hudson has his next doctor's appointment Tuesday, after which the veteran Braves pitcher hopes he's cleared to start throwing from the mound at full effort.

He's 3-1/2 months into recovery from Nov. 28 lumbar spine-fusion surgery, and the 36-year-old is upbeat and optimistic about joining the starting rotation by May 1, an unofficial targeted return date.

"I think [May 1] at the latest," Hudson said. "It'd be hard to say [if he can return earlier] because I've got to build up to that. I could be back in April but it might be a four- or five-inning thing. April is my month of spring training games — unless I'm able to pitch sooner here [in camp] than we thought."

He was scheduled to throw a "light" bullpen on Sunday.