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 Chicago 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.""It's a learning process and my first couple of years in the big leagues, I was trying to strike everybody out and overthrow," he said.Huff is 18-26 with a 5.30 ERA in 55 games, all but three of them starts. He said he willing to do whatever the organization needs, but understands that there plenty of other teams out there if Trevor Bauer, Daisuke Matsuzaka or someone else comes away with the fifth spot in the rotation and he doesn't find a job in the bullpen."Ultimately, it is me trying out for every team if I am not a fit for this organization," he said. "For me, it is just concentrating on pitching and the pressure comes down to them making a decision."The 28-year-old Huff had a decent outing after allowing a double to David DeJesus and a home run to Cubs prospect Javier Baez to open the game."He left the changeup and fastball up. Other than that, he was pretty good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We will sit down and try to get things in order. We are getting to the point where are going to have to start limiting innings."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."
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 on 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. ... Indians OF Michael Brantley will be in the lineup Sunday as the designated hitter. ... Bauer threw four scoreless innings in a B game, allowing a hit and a walk with three strikeouts against the White Sox.