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Huff competing for bullpen role, not rotation spot


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- David Huff had been hoping to have a conversation with Indians manager Terry Francona to get some clarity about his potential role on the pitching staff. Huff received his wish when he was approached by Francona on Sunday morning.

With three weeks remaining in camp, Huff was informed that he is now competing for a spot in Cleveland's bullpen. When Spring Training opened, the Indians had the left-handed pitcher in the mix for either a starting or relief role.

"I was going to go in and talk to him eventually," Huff said. "Him and I are on the same page. He came in, he clarified and he kept me in the loop. He was honest, which we haven't had that. That's big, especially to us. It's awesome."

Huff added that he was "totally fine" with transitioning to a bullpen role.

In four Cactus League appearances this spring, Huff has gone 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA over 10 innings, during which he has allowed six runs on 10 hits (three home runs) with eight strikeouts and three walks. Huff has, however, paced all of the Tribe's pitchers in first-pitch strikes (at a rate of 83 percent) and strikes on 1-1 counts (80 percent).

Given that Huff had his innings built up like a starter early in spring, the Indians could take a look at him as a long reliever.

"That's the good part about getting him stretched out," Francona said. "We have the ability right now to have a guy that can throw multiple innings. He throws strikes. Where this goes, we don't know yet, but I'm glad we stretched him out. I think it's been good for him, and I think it'll help us."

Huff -- selected 39th overall in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by the Indians -- spent most of last season with Triple-A Coumbus, but went 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in six outings with Cleveland. Over parts of four seasons in the big leagues, the lefty has gone 18-26 with a 5.30 ERA in 55 games with 157 strikeouts and 97 walks in 285 1/3 innings.

"Being in the bullpen last year, I had fun with it. I enjoyed it," said Huff, who is out of Minor League options. "If it ends up not working out, I understand. It's a business. But, all in all, if I had my choice, I'd want to stay."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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