Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Yankees Bounce Back With Some Huff and Some Puff

David Huff knows what it's like to be Phil Hughes- a southern California prospect that is expected to pay off in wins and a long career with the team that drafted him. Hughes was picked 23rd overall by the Yankees in the 2004 amateur draft while Huff went 39th overall to the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round of the draft two years later.

Neither has had the career expected of them. Hughes is in the final year of his current contract with the Yankees and will get the opportunity to test the free agent market. His time in pinstripes is most certainly over. He won nearly one-third of his 56 career wins (18) in 2010. It appeared he was on the road to regular success when he won 16 games last season, bolstered by a strong second half.

Unfortunately for Hughes,this season he picked up from the first half of last season rather than the way he finished. Home runs have continued to be his bugaboo and Yankee Stadium is no place to pitch with that affliction.

The Indians gave up on Huff earlier this year and the Yankees plucked him off waivers on May 25. The left-hander holds the unique distinction of being drafted three separate times. The Angels took him in the 31st round of the 2003 draft out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, CA, but Huff opted for Cypress College. He also passed on the Phillies when they selected him in the 19th round in 2005.

After Huff also attended UCLA and UC-Irvine, he went pro with the Tribe. But after a career mark of 20-26, 5.18, he was set free. After one relief appearance with the Yankees on May 26, he was sent down to Triple-A Scranton, but was recalled in August and has allowed one earned run in 15 innings.

His career and Hughes' converged on Sunday when Hughes' start (1.1 IP) against the Chicago White Sox was washed out by a nearly two hour rain delay. Joe Girardi called on Huff to take the baseball and the 29-year old gave his manager and teammates everything he had. His 5.2 inning relief stint was backed by an eight-run 4th inning that gave the Yankees a 9-1 win and Huff his second victory with his new team. A win was needed after Sunday's bullpen melt down that prevented a three game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. The outing also gave Girardi some options.

Should the Yankees manager decide to pull Hughes from the rotation, Huff has certainly earned an opportunity to take his place.


Huff's biggest connection to the Yankees prior to joining the team came in 2010 when Alex Rodriguez hit a line drive that careened off of Huff's head. He was helped off the field, but resumed baseball activities two days later.

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