Huff has issues in first action at second base
Giants infielder unable to cover bag on pivotal ninth-inning play
NEW YORK -- Aubrey Huff found himself in an impossible position Saturday, and of course, the baseball found him there. Huff, a career corner infielder and outfielder, made his first appearance at second base on Saturday and wound up involved in a play that helped decide the game.
The Giants were one man short on Saturday due to the continued unavailability of infielder Ryan Theriot, and manager Bruce Bochy had scant choice in selecting a late-game contingency plan. He settled on Huff, largely because the 13-year veteran had a rich history at both first base and third base.
Huff took his position at second in the bottom of the ninth inning after the Giants had clawed back to tie it at 4 in the top half. And he made one putout -- at first base on a bunt -- before ending up in the crosshairs. The game situation was tense, with two men on base and one out, when Huff took center stage.
Pinch-hitter Justin Turner hit a grounder to shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, who immediately looked to second hoping to turn a double play. But Huff wasn't there, forcing Burriss to check his throw and go to first, where the umpire ruled that the ball arrived a half-second behind the runner.
For the Giants, though, the play was just an example of trying the make the best of a bad situation.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Bochy said following his team's 5-4 loss. "We were down, and we were going to try to get our best bats up there to tie the game or take the lead. Theriot's not here, and we talked about this yesterday that Huff would be the guy [at second base]. You're hoping it doesn't hurt you."
Huff, who had played in 1,640 games before his Saturday appearance at second base, said that he would gladly play wherever the team needed him and wherever the situation dictated.
"I'll play catcher if they want me to," Huff said. "I play for the organization. If they tell me what to do, I'll do it. It's not really something I can say no to."
And despite how the play looked, Huff may not have had much of a chance. He was shaded closer to first base, and he would've had to beat Ruben Tejada in a footrace to second base. Huff said he didn't have a chance to win that race because his first step -- and first instinct -- was to go toward first.
"It's just my natural instinct," he said. "My whole life, if the ball gets hit to my right, I'm going to first. That was my first move. I mean, I knew where I was, but that's just my natural instinct my whole career."
As Bochy noted, the Giants didn't have many options. They had shuffled their lineup to get in some pinch-hitters during the top half of the ninth inning, and Theriot was in transit to Citi Field due to an illness. That left Huff at second base, and it also left the Giants scrambling to make a play.
"Where he was playing, he had a long way to go," said Bochy of Huff's positioning at second. "We were hoping to just go to first. We didn't pick it up soon enough, but still, I thought [Turner] was out. That's what I was arguing. I haven't seen [the replay], but if you get him, you get him. He's out."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.