- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Huff, best-known by Yankees fans for being the pitcher who was struck in the head, frighteningly, by a line drive hit by Alex Rodriguez in 2010 at Yankee Stadium, is now officially a member of the team's pitching staff; and Ben Francisco, best-known by Yankees fans as the player Joe Girardi forgot was on his roster the other night, is now officially a man without a team.
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Huff, a left-handed reliever who was claimed by the Yankees off waivers from the Cleveland Indians yesterday, was added to the roster this morning and arrived in Tampa ready to help out in the bullpen.
Francisco was designated for assignment to make room for Huff on the roster. Francisco was signed during spring training as a backup outfielder, but he rarely played (batting .114 with a home run that accounted for his only RBI).
"The last time I talked to you guys was the day I almost had my head taken off," Huff said when approached by the Yankees beat crew. "I'm just super-excited to be here and I've got to embrace it."
Huff, a former starter relegated to the bullpen this season, had appeared in just three games for Cleveland, allowing five earned runs, but Girardi said Huff would provide some insurance this week since both Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps are scheduled to start after suffering injuries in their most recent outings.
"I could use him in a lot of different ways," Girardi said. "He gives us another lefty in our bullpen, and he's also someone who can give you distance in a time where we have some questions."
The manager said he was "99 percent sure" Kuroda would make his scheduled start on Tuesday against the Mets and Matt Harvey at Citi Field. And Phelps, who threw a light side session today, is still wearing a large compression wrap on the area of his right forearm that got hit with a line drive Friday night. He continues to maintain that he will make his scheduled start Wednesday.
Huff said he was not told what his role would be, but like all the new arrivals in the Yankees' clubhouse, he said he is willing to do whatever was asked of him. He said he felt comfortable in his new surroundings, having been a teammate of Francisco and Travis Hafner in Cleveland, having played against Brett Gardner "at every level," and having grown up near Phil Hughes in SoCal.
And of course, Huff knows the guy who hit the ball off his head at Yankee Stadium three years ago. "I'll have to talk to Alex about that," he said, laughing.