Notes: Huff makes return from injury

Notes: Huff makes return from injury

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Aubrey Huff's exhibition season got off to a belated start Wednesday, when the Orioles cleared their designated hitter for game duty. Huff, who had corrective surgery for a sports hernia just six weeks ago, went 0-for-2 in Baltimore's 2-1 loss to the Marlins and pronounced himself perfectly healthy afterwards.

Also, when pressed repeatedly about the surgery, he said it may have been a "blessing in disguise." Huff, a notoriously slow starter, said the injury may have kept him from overworking himself during the winter.

"With these slow starts, it seems like I start earlier and earlier in the offseason with my hitting -- and no matter what I do, it just doesn't help," Huff said. "So hopefully this might. I didn't even pick up a bat until Spring Training started. Hopefully it allowed my body to relax, and it might have even been a blessing in disguise.

"Again, this has felt as good as any first day I've ever had. Whether I got a hit or not, I felt good out there."

Huff remarked that he "just missed" on his final at-bat, a flyout to deep right field. He said his timing felt good considering that he had faced live hitters just twice during his recovery, and he seemed excited to get out there again.

"It was probably the most nerve-racking first at-bat I've had in my life in Spring Training," Huff said. "I actually saw the ball well, and everything just felt nice and relaxed and comfortable after the first pitch. It felt good just getting back out there."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he'll work Huff in more as the spring progresses, and he also said that the veteran won't be chasing his peers for the rest of the spring. Most of Baltimore's regulars have between 10 and 14 at-bats, meaning that Huff is just two or three games behind the pace and can catch up by going on some extra road trips.

"I went with the program that came from the medical staff," said Trembley, referring to Huff's rehabilitation schedule. "I couldn't put him out there until he cleared everything and he was ready. Once it became a baseball issue, then we could take over. ... We tried to speed it up by having him hit in simulated games and off live BP."

Reinforcements: The Orioles will have three fresh bodies waiting for them in Fort Myers, Fla., a necessity caused by several illnesses running around the big league clubhouse. Several players, including outfielders Jay Payton and Chris Roberson and infielder Scott Moore, have been limited at best for the last few days.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Fordin on O's health, Roberts  400K
• Spring Training Spotlight: Orioles  400K
• Shelby discusses his return to O's  400K
• O's bench coach Dave Jauss  400K
• Albers on O's camp  400K
• Olson on O's camp  400K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Trembley chose to fill out his bench with outfielder Sebastien Boucher and infielders Jonathan Tucker and Blake Davis, a decision that should allow him to quarantine the sick players until they're completely better.

"We're going to bring three players in tomorrow," Trembley said before Wednesday's game. "I would say that they are going to be here at least a week until we get this sickness out of the game, so I have some other guys.

"I think we have to be careful there. It's really early in the camp and we don't want to push those guys. I don't want Roberson coming back and he's not ready, and he's going to have a relapse. That's what happened with Payton."

Injury updates: The extent of both Freddie Bynum and Troy Patton's injuries will be determined on Thursday, when team orthopedist Jon Wilckens will examine the results of their respective magnetic resonance imaging tests. Bynum is believed to have a minor knee injury, but Patton has a shoulder issue that could potentially end his season.

Chopping block: Trembley met with Andy MacPhail, the team's president of baseball operations, on Wednesday and discussed who would be leaving camp in the first wave of cuts.

"We're going to do something later this week," said Trembley in the hours before Wednesday's game. "We've identified some names. Let's get through the game tomorrow in Fort Myers and we'll do something after that."

Quotable: "I get a different team next time. Maybe a team where I've heard of more than three guys in their lineup." -- Baltimore starter Steve Trachsel, who has faced the split-squad Marlins twice in two starts

Up next: The Orioles will play against the Twins on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET, and Daniel Cabrera will be matched up against Minnesota's Livan Hernandez, a recent transplant from the National League.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.