St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Huff brings new focus to spring

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- The hair color has changed, and so has the attitude.

A noticeably more muscular and infinitely more focused Aubrey Huff spent part of Saturday taking batting practice alone in his final workout before position players report Wednesday.

"Last year, obviously, I didn't impress anybody. I didn't impress myself," said Huff, who hit .248 and made 20 errors in 111 games with the Rays. "I needed to come back this year in shape and wanting to play third base.

"That's what I want to play this year. ... I want to get a set position. I want to come in, try and reprove myself."

Manager Hal McRae has said Huff, who put on 10 pounds of muscle this offseason and spent three weeks in Louisiana with his batting coach from college, will be tried at third, first and as a designated hitter this spring.

Jared Sandberg is considered the front-runner at third base.

"I know I didn't deserve it last year," Huff said. "I made 20 errors. But I worked real hard this offseason to try and cut that down. When I get my chance to play third, I'm going to go out there and make the best of it."

WIDE EYES: One has a shot to find a spot in the starting rotation. The other is there to learn the basics.

Among the first-timers in camp are the Rays' top picks from the 2000 and 2001 amateur drafts: outfielder Rocco Baldelli and pitcher Dewon Brazelton.

"I just want to go out and prove to these guys that I'm no fluke," said Brazelton, who spent the last month of the 2001 season with the Rays though he did not appear in a major-league game. "For the most part I listen to everybody. I listen because it's a learning process."

Baldelli, who hit .249 with eight homers and 55 RBIs with Class A Charleston last season, was one of five position players who worked out Friday.

"You just kind of stay around and not really try to say too much and just listen and see what the other guys do, the guys who've been there and know what they're doing," he said. "It's a really great opportunity to come and give me a chance to do this. I'm going to take full advantage of it."

IN CAMP: Relief pitcher Jesus Colome made it to camp after missing Friday's workout because of visa problems in the Dominican Republic.

Pitchers Enger Veras and Luis De Los Santos, who also are experiencing visa complications, are the only players missing from camp.

"The majority of Dominican players have had problems with the United States embassy getting their visa," Colome said. "There's high security there."

FAN WALL OF FAME: Fourteen fans were inducted into the Rays Wall of Fame during FanFest at Tropicana Field: were: Skip Hill, Fred Lintz and Billie Joe Grassinger from Largo, Richard and Alecia Greene from Pasco, Lucie Paulucci from Brandon, Lyman Hansen from Pinellas Park, Trey and Jerry Scott from Land O'Lakes, Jack and Vicki Katchuk from Safety Harbor, Rick and Lynn Edens from Palm Harbor and Bill DeIuliis from Clearwater.

ODDS AND ENDS: Right-handed pitcher Brandon Backe agreed to terms on a one-year contract, leaving nine players unsigned. ... In addition to Huff, infielder Jace Brewer and Sandberg practiced at the complex.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

  • With compensation set, the decision is Mariucci's

  • Devil Rays
  • McHale upbeat about Rays' future
  • Torborg enthused about Marlins' hopes
  • Vaughn: 'I'm coming to play the outfield'
  • Huff brings new focus to spring

  • Lightning
  • Dudley made many right moves as GM

  • Daytona 500
  • Reminders of a legend
  • Helicopter coming to pick up Gibbs crashes; 2 die
  • Junior takes No. 3 to checkered flag
  • Robinson picks up where Guthrie left

  • Letters
  • Lack of cash to blame for Lightning's troubles

  • Golf
  • Fleisher up for the challenge
  • TPC holds special place in his heart
  • Late rough spot hinders Quigley

  • College basketball
  • Rebels' crawling pace stymies UF
  • Kohn's career day keys Bulls romp

  • Outdoors
  • Fishery council asks: What to do about reds?
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • Leesburg hustles past Panthers 79-52
  • Citrus holds off Leopards
  • Panthers' pin memorable
  • 'Cats claw way to first crown
  • Tornadoes blow away East Lake
  • Springstead 3rd behind Brandon
  • Bucs rally to defeat Rams for third time
  • McMillen's 34 points pace IRC past Bayshore
  • Bulls, Raiders each have one champion
  • SPC rips Mooney for title
  • Spartans use depth to sink Dunedin
  • Countryside rolls, sends 7 to state

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts