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Huff battling for a spot on Giants pitching staff

AP - Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Left-hander David Huff is one of 37 pitchers in the San Francisco Giants spring training camp and one of 23 with major-league experience.

A former first-round draft pick, Huff hopes to make enough of an impression to earn a spot somewhere on the Giants' overcrowded pitching staff.

The New York Yankees converted him into a long reliever-spot starter last year after they claimed him off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. It's the type of versatility the Giants are seeking for their pitching staff.

''When I got here, they told me they wanted to utilize my versatility,'' Huff said. ''I am ready to pitch wherever they want me.''

Huff has a few advantages. He's left-handed, has a major league contract and has over 300 innings of big league experience.

Kameron Loe, a right-hander who spent last season with the Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, has pitched for over eight years in the majors and has both starting and relief experience. He's a non-roster pitcher.

Other non-roster pitchers with time in the big leagues are Jason Berken, Rafael Dolis, J.C. Gutierrez, Sandy Rosario, Dan Runzler and Mason Tobin.

Huff, the Cleveland Indians' first-round pick in the 2006 draft, appeared in 11 games, with two starts, for the Yankees, finishing 3-1 with a 4.67 ERA.

''Depth was something we wanted to improve upon,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''I think we are much better in that area.''

Huff was traded to the Giants from the Yankees for cash considerations in January, two days after he was designated for assignment by New York to make room for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka.

While he's spent most of his career as a starter, Huff said he would continue to work at extending himself.

''It's always easier to build length and then cut it rather than the other way around,'' he said. ''I came into spring willing to make an adjustment.''

Huff has had to make adjustments throughout his career, from dealing with high expectations to rebooting his career.

He was the Indians' Minor League Player of the Year in 2008 and made his debut with the team the following May.

Huff led the Indians with 11 wins in 2009, tied for fourth among AL rookies. He is 21-27 with a 5.32 ERA in 69 games, 54 starts, in parts of five big league seasons.

He fit right in with the Giants.

''The whole staff was welcoming,'' Huff said. ''It was like we were friends all along. It's great to work alongside these guys.''

Huff even took pride in fielding his position, snagging one-hoppers and dealing with various bunt situations. He gave the signs while playing third base during one drill.

''Even on the days you're tired you have to deal with game-like situations,'' he said. ''The more you simulate that, the more it feels like second nature. Having the pitchers play infield positions is a great idea because you're getting a chance to see things from their point of view.''

NOTES: 1B Brandon Belt, who signed a contract to avoid arbitration late Tuesday, was expected to arrive at camp Wednesday night and be ready to go Thursday. . OF Hunter Pence was impressive during batting practice. ''He keeps himself in incredible space,'' Bochy said. ''He came in ready to hit like that.'' . OF Mike Morse continued to take grounders at first. ''He came up as an infielder,'' Bochy said. ''He'll mainly play outfield but if Belt needs a day, he can fill in.'' . Bochy said he also saw a difference in the way a slimmed down Pablo Sandoval swung the bat. ''He looked good.''

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