Aug. 9, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The easy mark on Bruce Bochy's back, the one disgruntled fans want to pepper with poison darts when their boys in orange and black are laboring through one of the inevitable slogs of slop that mark every big-league team's 162-game grind, is the one with "I Heart Veterans" in red cursive flowing over it, lower-left to upper-right.It's been widely viewed as the man's Achilles' Heel since he arrived in San Francisco. He sticks with the long of tooth too long. Gives them too many chances. Too much rope. Doesn't trust anyone who grew up with a Sony Playstation in their bedroom.RELATED: Giants Insider gallery -- Grateful for a win
It's not an unfair tag, either. Ask any Giants fan to throw out the name of a salty vet that Bochy's stood by to his detriment over the years and you'll get a rat-a-rat-tat of Roberts-Klesko-Winn-Rowand.This year, those fans have added a Huff. As in Aubrey, the man who endeared himself to the region with a red thong and a red-hot bat in 2010, but quickly worked his way out of favor in 2011 with a bat that hasn't yet justified the 22 million raise he got in the afterglow of the World Series.
Bochy sticks to his guns, though. Just like he sticks to his veterans. And while he never got the return for which he hoped in investing his own hope and faith in Roberts-Klesko-Winn-Rowand, you have to admit that since the midpoint of last season he's ended up looking smart in the end on pretty much everything he's tried.Might that ring true with Huff? For a night, a relatively easy win over the visiting Pirates, it sure did.RECAP: Bumgarner, Huff leads Giants to 6-0 victory
After chatting with the media during his daily session prior to batting practice Tuesday, Bochy still seemed in a talkative mood. Taking advantage of such, I asked if he had a minute. He had about seven, and maybe four of them -- four minutes is longer than you think -- were spent talking about Huff.About how much he still believed in him. About how much he liked his swing of late. About the quality of his at-bats being obscured by the team's overall struggles."I'm really not worried about Aubrey," Bochy said. "He's gonna be fine. You watch."If you watched Tuesday's game, you watched Huff's first big game since the first game after the All-Star break. Run-scoring double, towering homer, rally-extending single.Bochy wasn't the only one who called it, either.Monday during batting practice, after Huff put together a particularly impressive round, he responded to a quick compliment with, "I feel pretty good in there now. Finally."That's probably what Giants fans were thinking: Finally.