Thursday, June 17, 2010

Texan makes big pinstripe debut

(Photo by Ken Carozza)

By Howard Goldin

The newest member of the New York Yankees, Chad Huffman, made his major league debut last Sunday afternoon before a huge crowd of 46,832. The 25 year-old was starting in right field. Huffman was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Marcus Thames, who was placed on the 15 day disabled list after straining his right hamstring.

Leading off the third, Huffman beat out a grounder to shortstop in his first trip to the plate. His effort made an immediate positive impression upon onlookers. His mother, father, brother, and other members of his family and friends in the stands were cheering vociferously.

After the game, he said, “I saw my family jump up and down. It means everything. It was a great feeling. My brother [who played in the minors] kind of taught me a lot.” When questioned by reporters about his first hit being of the infield variety, the personable and good humored youngster replied, “A hit’s a hit.” He also admitted he felt, “Relief” after garnering his first hit so quickly.

Huffman walked in the fourth to load the bases. Ramiro Pena singled to score two runs, but Huffman was at third on the throw. In his next time at the plate in the fifth, Huffman struck out on a wild pitch by Astros hurler Casey Daigle. As the ball got away from the catcher, Huffman sprinted to first successfully. After the contest, he told reporters, “You play hard every day. That’s how I was raised to play.” Huffman’s final two at bats were routine plays. He grounded out to third in the sixth, and popped out to second in the eighth.

Huffman, a student-athlete at Texas Christian University, was selected by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. After five games with Fort Wayne, Huffman finished the 2006 season with Eugene in the Northwest League. After the season, he was named a Short Season All-Star by Baseball America. During his next three minor league seasons, he was Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A All-Star. On April 7, Huffman was claimed on waivers by the Yankees and added to the 40 man roster.

The Houston, Texas native was happy to play his first game against his local big league team. Huffman said he lived 30 minutes from Houston’s ballpark. He explained that his family flew in from Texas late the previous evening on the “red eye”. He joked that, ‘I got to Newark [airport] as fast as I could before they [Yankees] changed their mind.” He enthused that being in the majors “means the world to me.”

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