Aubrey Huff has officially announced his retirement from baseball, ending a 13-year Major League career, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
“I’m officially done. I have no desire to play anymore,” Huff said over the phone on Saturday. “That has come and gone. I couldn’t even imagine picking up a bat and trying to get ready for the whole grind of a baseball season anymore. I’m enjoying this way too much, just hanging out.”
Huff already has a new job lined up, as he will be a broadcaster with the Pac-12 network starting next month.
Huff was drafted by the Devil Rays in the fifth round of the 1998 draft and spent seven seasons in the big leagues with them. Over the rest of his career, he would play with the Astros, Orioles, Tigers, and Giants. He was a big part of the 2010 World Series champion Giants, posting an .891 OPS during the regular season with a few multi-hit games during the post-season. Perhaps his most important contribution to that team, though, was the inception of the “red rally thong“. He won a second ring as part of the 2012 Giants as well, but his role and contributions were reduced, as he was 35 years old.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.