Huffman blows them down in Padres' debut

"I will Huff(man) and I will puff and I will blow this house down!" The big bad wolf tore through the Northwest League. Unlike the Three Little Pigs, the pitchers had no escape plan for Padres' prospect Chad Huffman, nor could they hope to contain him.

It had to be termed a successful year for you on a personal level.

Chad Huffman: It was a great experience for my first time in pro ball. Doug (Dascenzo) really helped me out there in left field. He was a good man to play for in my first professional season.

I don't want to say it was a surprise since everything we heard coming in made us believe you could handle the position swap but were you happy with your play in the outfield? It seemed like you took to the move really well.

Chad Huffman: You know I was a little nervous, especially the first game I played left field. I hadn't played the outfield barely at all up until this summer. I just went out there and tried to do the best I can. Doug helped me out a lot, teaching me reads and a lot of things. When I went there I was just thinking when the ball goes up in the air you go catch it. There is a lot more little things you have to learn to be a good outfielder.

At the plate you obviously had a great season. But you were hit by 14 pitches and then hit by four more in the Instructional Leagues. Do people just not like you?

Chad Huffman: I don't know what that is! I stay on top of the plate and backed up a little bit this summer. I have always been a guy that stands up on top of the plate and challenges guys to get that fastball inside.

One of the things that may go unnoticed and is underrated is getting productive outs. You led the team in sacrifice flies and those little things that are a part of the game end up being pretty big.

Chad Huffman: It is huge from both sides, personal and the team. No matter what the situation is it is a big part of the game. It helps get guys in front of you on third base with less than two outs. It gives you a chance to get one elevated to bring them home. But, if I didn't have the guys in front of me on third base I wouldn't have had those.

When you look back at your season how do you assess it. What stands out?

Chad Huffman: What stands out was just how much fun it was. It is a great game and to play everyday. It is great to play in front of a couple of thousand people every night. It was a great situation.

You went out to the Instructional Leagues – was there something specific that you ended up working on out there?

Chad Huffman: Instructs was fun because you got to work on things. They didn't really keep stats and it didn't really matter that much. I got to stand up tall to see how that works, move my hands a little bit to see how that felt. It was fun to go out there and tinker with things to see what works and what didn't so I could take what I liked into next season.

What did you learn that you liked that you weren't doing before?

Chad Huffman: I felt like towards the end of the season I was wrapping my bat a little bit and I wasn't getting to pitches I should be getting to. At the upper levels you don't get that many pitches to hit each at bat. I think I shortened up my bat a little more and that made me more consistent in hitting the pitch I want to hit.

You say you don't see as many pitches – and that may be true at the upper levels - but you saw more pitches than anyone in the Padres' Instructional League.

Chad Huffman: I didn't know that! That is a good deal!

Was there a particular coach you found yourself working with who may have shown you something that really clicked for you?

Chad Huffman: Tom Tornicasa and Rob Deer helped me out. After the games they would just mess with me a little bit and kind of play a little bit until I got comfortable. We did a lot of early work and one day I felt real uncomfortable, real uncomfortable and then all of a sudden it clicked and started to feel a lot better. It was something I liked and can take into next season.

What is next? You get a little bit of downtime but where do you go from here?

Chad Huffman: I am going to be Fort Worth and then I go back to Houston to go work out with my brother. Luckily, I have a good spot to work out and a lot of friends I grew up with in pro ball. I work out with James Loney – I have an indoor batting cage in our area so it is a good place to workout.

You got a taste of Fort Wayne at the end of the year. What was that experience like?

Chad Huffman: It was a great experience. I was honored to be able to move up and go to the playoffs with those guys. I got to meet those guys, hang out with those guys, get to know them a little bit. Plus I got to see the city of Fort Wayne, the atmosphere and see what the ballpark was like – and to travel a little bit.

Do you have any expectations going into this year?

Chad Huffman: No, I can't really control where they put me. I have control just over myself. I am going to go out there in spring training and battle for a spot no matter where it is.

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