Huff a busy backstop in big league debut

September 12th, 2020

Sometime in the future, will probably talk in detail about his big league debut.

He’ll recall the sights and sounds of Globe Life Field on his special day. He’ll bring up the A’s, how his teammates embraced him and the uniqueness of fulfilling a childhood dream during a pandemic on Sept. 11.

Then he’ll mention how busy he was, especially in the top of the first inning. He probably won’t mention the score, but he’ll definitely mention the feelings… or lack thereof.

“I couldn't feel my legs, but it was fun. I had a good time,” Huff, 22, said. “I just got my legs loose and then after that, it was fine.”

Huff, the club’s No. 2 prospect who was in Class A last season, went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the Rangers’ 10-6 loss to the A’s on Friday. He’s expected to see plenty of action with Jose Trevino unable to catch because of a sprained left wrist sustained Wednesday and the Rangers scheduled for a doubleheader Saturday.

“I was just trying to slow everything down,” Huff said. “I did not want to speed up and make a wrong decision for him. I just wanted to make sure he knows I’m trying to keep as calm as possible and keep him through the flow of the game and try and get him through.”   

Garcia was immediately replaced by Jimmy Herget after throwing 23 pitches, 15 of which were balls, and not recording an out.

“I thought he handled it pretty well, considering I think any catcher would have a little bit [of anxiety] there,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Huff. “That's not a good feeling. It's not a comfortable feeling. But I know for a 22-year-old kid to handle it the way he did, I thought he did a great job. He never got deterred from his gameplan. When I went out to take Garcia out, I wanted to look [Huff] in the eye and see if there was kind of a deer-in-the-headlights look, but he was composed, talking through things.”

Center fielder Leody Taveras singled and scored in the bottom half of the frame, but the A’s answered with a 464-foot solo home run by Sean Murphy off Jordan Lyles as part of a three-run inning to take a 7-1 lead. They tacked on their eighth run in the fourth.

As for Huff, he struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat. A’s veteran starter Mike Fiers got ahead of the rookie with a slider for a called strike one and put him away with back-to-back curveballs that Huff whiffed at. The rookie’s nerves also threw him for a loop.

“I couldn’t feel my bat,” Huff said.

Fiers got ahead of Huff 0-2 with a pair of sliders in the fifth inning. He worked the count full and flew out to center field for the first out. Huff walked on five pitches from reliever J.B. Wendelken in the Rangers’ three-run seventh.

Rougned Odor’s two-run home run in the eighth cut Oakland’s lead to 9-6. In the end, Lyles was charged with five runs on nine hits in seven innings. He threw 115 pitches.

Joakim Soria struck out Huff on four pitches in the ninth in his final at-bat.

“After the first [at-bat], it was a lot better,” Huff said. “It was fun getting to play with everyone and face guys you watched when you're a kid. Being there in that moment was kind of cool.”