Scenery change energizes Huff

The Baltimore Sun

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- With more than one type of glove in his locker, Aubrey Huff says he doesn't care where the Orioles play him this season. It's obvious that he's satisfied just being in their clubhouse.

Huff reported yesterday, the latest position player to arrive before Tuesday's due date. After spending parts of seven seasons with the Devil Rays, and still living in Tampa, he didn't have far to travel.

"This is a short drive for me to come down here," he said. "I wanted to get here early and get everything set up, get my apartment set up over here and meet everybody slowly but surely."

Huff signed a three-year, $20 million contract Jan. 3 after finishing last season with the Houston Astros, who obtained him in a trade. He was a teammate of Danys Baez, Chris Gomez and Rob Bell at Tampa Bay. He has the same agent as Jay Gibbons. While at the University of Miami, Huff played against Brian Roberts (South Carolina).

"I've never been so excited to come to spring training," Huff said. "Unless it was my first year in big league camp with the Rays, this is about it. Just to be able to go to a new city and break from camp and go to a new city to start the season. In Tampa, you're in St. Pete. You broke camp, you went next door. It wasn't really anything big. This is something different. It will be fun for me this year."

Especially if the Orioles contend in the American League East.

"As soon as you got to camp with the Devil Rays, you pretty much knew you had no shot," he said. "You look at the overhaul they've done with the bullpen here. And one through nine, I think it's one of the most balanced offenses in baseball.

"We'll go as far as the starting pitching goes, and there's a tremendous ceiling with these guys."

No word on Acevedo

An Orioles official said the team had no updates on pitcher Jose Acevedo's condition.

Invited to camp as a nonroster player, Acevedo broke four ribs and his collarbone Friday in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic and is expected to miss the season. He reportedly was conscious and in intensive care.

"It's an unfortunate accident," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said. "It doesn't appear that it's life-threatening at this time, but he's dealing with some serious injuries."

The organization expressed its sympathies through Carlos Bernhardt, director of Latin American scouting.

"We said if there was anything we can do from an organization standpoint, we're here and available," Flanagan said. "But it's serious enough where he's a question mark for the season."

Acevedo most likely would have begun the season at Triple-A Norfolk. He spent parts of four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and most recently pitched for the Colorado Rockies in 2005.

He's back

Todd Williams never wanted to leave the Orioles.

For a while, it looked as if he wouldn't have a choice.

The Orioles didn't tender Williams a contract after the 2006 season, making the reliever a free agent after he went 2-4 with a 4.74 ERA in a team-leading 62 appearances. But they re-signed him Jan. 12, and he's in camp with the other pitchers. He also appears to be in better shape than last spring.

"In the past, I always did the same routine," he said. "Last year, I think I overdid it with my throwing program. It didn't work out well. This year, I went home and hooked up with a personal trainer and did the whole gym thing and started throwing a lot earlier. I played catch a lot more during bullpens. I got a lot more work in this year.

"I didn't do a lot of running last year, I didn't do a lot of physical stuff to keep in shape. I needed to go see her and she kicked my butt every day. Now I have to put it all together here, to pitch and get guys out. That's a lot different. But as far as getting in shape to be here, I've done all I can do."

Said manager Sam Perlozzo: "He's in a lot better shape. I think he's coming in with something to prove. I've been watching him a little bit on the side and when he threw to some hitters, and he's got good life on the ball and good sink. I'm looking for him to rebound from last year."

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