Huff getting cozy in San Francisco
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Aubrey Huff knows the reputation of AT&T Park being friendly to pitchers. He admits the kayakers in McCovey Cove probably won’t get nearly as many gifts from him as they would like.
Still, the veteran first baseman believes that he’s a good fit in San Francisco, where he signed a one-year, free-agent contract in January.
“I’m an easygoing guy. I think I can fit in anywhere,” he said. “We all have a common goal. You realize that there is a room full of guys just like you.”
His locker at Scottsdale Stadium is a few feet away from the one occupied by center fielder Aaron Rowand, the projected leadoff hitter. Also close by is the locker of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who likely will hit in the No. 3 hole, just ahead of Huff in the cleanup spot.
Huff is developing a rapport with his neighbors, chatting and laughing on the field and in the clubhouse.
“I’m having a great time. Everybody seems relaxed,” he said. “What you’re trying to do at this point is get your legs underneath you and swing the soreness out of you.”
The 33-year-old Huff has spent most of his time in the American League, with Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Detroit. He had a comparatively brief 68-game stop with Houston in 2006, his only National League duty.
It is refreshing, he said, to be in a new league, “away from those big-payroll teams in the American League East.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy is happy to have another veteran player who is capable of playing more than one position, although the bulk of Huff’s time will be at first base. The 6-foot-4 Huff checked into camp at 218 pounds, about 12 less than he carried at the end of last season.
“He showed up in great shape, lost some weight,” Bochy said Saturday. “He knows we’re going to be counting on him to play a lot of first base and a little bit in the outfield. I like the way he swings the bat and the effort he has put in.”
Bochy said Travis Ishikawa, who started 88 games at first base as a rookie last season, will be in the mix again, although he’s behind after injuring his left big toe when he fell down some stairs in January. Ishikawa is wearing a walking boot and it’s uncertain when he will play.
Ishikawa is known more for his defense, having committed just three errors in 803 total chances. He hit nine homers and drove in 39 runs.
Huff offers more opportunities for production on a club that was 26th in the majors in runs scored (657) last season. He hit .241 with 15 homers and 85 RBIs with Baltimore and Detroit, but has a lifetime average of .282 with 203 career home runs and 752 RBIs in 10 seasons.
“I’m more of a doubles guy, hit line drives,” Huff said. “I hit an occasional home run. I get under them and they go.”
NOTES: Left-handeder Dan Runzler went home Saturday with the flu. … Left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the projected No. 5 starter, left the team due to personal reasons but is expected back in camp Sunday night. … 2B Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) took ground balls for the first time but still is not ready to swing a bat. … Bochy likely will give the players Tuesday off, in between an intrasquad game Monday and the Cactus League opener Wednesday.