MESA, Ariz. – David Huff is being more aggressive these days, and not just because he is out of options.
A candidate to become the fifth starter for Cleveland, the lefty just has a comfort level when it comes to his ability to get hitters out, even though is role with the Indians is anything but defined.
Huff gave up two runs and four hits in three innings Saturday in a 9-2 win over the Cubs. He walked none and struck out three.
“I know I can compete at the major league level,” Huff said. “I don’t need to put any more pressure on myself because that’s when you start nibbling and getting behind in counts and you lose who you are. For me, it is one of those things – back off, take a deep breath and do what I do.”
Jason Kipnis hit his first home run of the spring and Cedric Hunter also connected.
Kipnis came into the game hitting .227 with two RBIs. He led off the fourth with a home run against reliever Brooks Raley.
Hunter had three hits, including a three-run shot.
Chris Rusin, who made seven major league starts last year but is expected to begin this season in the minors, pitched three scoreless innings for the Cubs. He allowed three hits, induced a pair of double-play grounders, struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
Baez, a 20-year-old shortstop, will be sent down to minor league camp in about a week. But he’s already made a good impression.
Baez and 21-year-old Cuban Jorge Soler “are still raw and have to play so many more baseball games,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “They have to start playing every single day because our main guys need their at bats.”
Baez, who has received more playing time than expected because of Starlin Castro’s slow return from a slight hamstring injury, is happy with how camp has gone.
“They know I can play the game, but I still I have a lot to learn,” he said. “They are going to move me whenever they can.”
Notes: The recent rainy weather has played havoc with Cubs players nursing injuries, meaning Castro (hamstring), Ian Stewart (quadricpes) and Brent Lillibridge (groin) are definitely out until after Tuesday’s off-day. ... Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson was expected to pitch in a minor league game Friday, but had it moved into a batting cage because of the weather and faced the Cubs minor leaguers. Sveum said he went four innings to keep on pace with his throwing program.