San Francisco Giants Would Be Harsh to Release Aubrey Huff Now
He was effectively moved to the 15-day disabled list in order to allow him some time to cope with his condition. The Giants acknowledged that he was receiving treatment for his anxiety and would continue to do so as well.
Obviously, Huff's mental health issues are of serious nature, and the Giants are doing right by providing Huff the time to deal with them before being deemed ready to return to the team and the field of play.
The Giants are sympathetic. And they have said all the right things in their patience with Huff and cooperation in getting his health straightened out first and foremost.
However, at the same time, the timing of Huff's announcement may have prevented the Giants from making a serious decision about his future with the team, at least temporarily.
There is speculation that there is a correlation between his condition and the very public feedback of Huff's on-field performance so far this season.
After all, at the time of Huff's announcement, he was in the midst of a terrible start to the season, sporting a horrible .182 batting average. There were murmurs from the San Francisco fanbase about whether Huff was on his last legs.
And with the Giants holding Brett Pill and Brandon Belt on their roster, the team seemed to be deep at the first-base position. Why not move Belt up to be the full-time starter? Or, why not install a platoon with the younger, stronger and better-hitting duo?
Should the Giants release Aubrey Huff?
Huff had been receiving some time in the outfield, but it's clear that he wasn't suited to be out there if he was toting such an ugly batting average, as his defense wasn't exactly making up for his poor plate production.
It was apparent that the Giants were on the verge of having to make a decision about whether they should relegate the 35-year-old Huff to the bench or release him altogether.
Then came the last weekend, when San Francisco was visiting the New York Mets for a four-game series. Huff had just come off an 0-for-4 performance the previous night, prolonging his hitless streak to 15 straight at-bats, plummeting his batting average below the notorious Mendoza line.
And consequently, the pressures of a professional athlete then took front and center.
How does a veteran—or any player—handle having to perform at a high level, with several younger prospects are ready to take your place in their own hopes of making names for themselves?
How does any human being do his or her job in the public eye, while having to deal with personal issues on the side? Huff is reportedly going through a divorce, according to SFGate.com, and it's unfortunate that an athlete's personal life sometimes is put on the back burner.
Huff all of a sudden went AWOL, texting manager Bruce Bochy that he had some personal items to take care of in his home in Florida. When this news was first revealed, it appeared that Huff may have had trouble acknowledging the possibility that his future with the team was on a short leash.
Will Aubrey Huff be a Giant by season's end?
But clearly his mental health was taking a beating with all that was happening to him on the field and off it. And with Huff struggling at the plate, and without having a specific game plan to his everyday position or place in the lineup, it'd be hard for anybody to feel confident about their status.
On Saturday, CSNBayArea reported that Bochy planned to have a more solid role for Huff—as part of a platoon at first base. Hopefully for Huff's sake, a higher level of consistency in his status with the lineup will make him feel more comfortable and improve his performance on the field.
But is this the right move? Bringing back a player who is going through mental issues and struggling mightily at the plate?
Unfortunately for the Giants, if they release Huff, it would make the team look rather unsympathetic to his condition and his plight. However, given the sensitivity of this entire issue, it's wise to ease Huff back into the fold and cross their fingers to see if he can lift his performance at the plate back up.
San Francisco can only see where the cards fall, and if Huff climbs back to a decent batting average, all's well that ends well.
If, however, Huff is unable to provide any production at the plate and on the field, it's possible that the Giants will keep him on the roster as the last bat off the bench. Otherwise, this episode will simply prolong their decision to release him sometime midseason or trade him before the deadline.
Certainly, they can't do either of those things now. That would be harsh.
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