ST. LOUIS -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy saluted Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who stepped down from his post Sunday for family reasons.

Bochy and Piniella developed a rapport when the former managed San Diego and the latter was Seattle's skipper. The teams share a Spring Training complex in Peoria, Ariz., which brought Bochy and Piniella together frequently.

"I've been fortunate to spend some time with Lou," Bochy said. "I have immense respect for all he has done in baseball, as a player, a manager and as a general manager. He's worn a lot of hats. He has a tremendous career he should be proud of."

The subject of Piniella's emotional exterior prompted a grin from Bochy.

"Lou has a great personality," Bochy said. "People love Lou. He's the kind of guy people love talking baseball with."

Piniella and Bochy are linked in another respect. Giants management put out feelers to Piniella after the 2006 season to determine whether he'd be interested in managing the club. After Piniella declined, the Giants pursued Bochy, who accepted their offer almost immediately.

Huff receives rare day off to recharge

ST. LOUIS -- If Aubrey Huff were an automobile, he would have spent the first part of Sunday having his tires rotated and some belts replaced.

Huff, the Giants' most productive hitter, was out of Sunday's starting lineup purely to receive some rest. Though St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia is left-handed, which conceivably would be a disadvantage to the left-handed-batting Huff, manager Bruce Bochy gave the first baseman-outfielder a break to preserve his energy. Huff, 33, entered Sunday leading the Giants with 120 games played.

"I talked to Aubrey last night," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He hasn't had a lot of days off, so this will help keep him fresh down the stretch."

Huff also rested Thursday in Philadelphia before returning to the lineup Friday and homering in San Francisco's 6-3 victory over St. Louis. But he's batting .179 (10-for-56) in his previous 15 games, dropping his overall average to .295 with 21 home runs and 70 RBIs.

Giants promote Dontrelle to Triple-A

ST. LOUIS -- The Giants have promoted Dontrelle Willis to Triple-A Fresno from their Rookie-level Arizona affiliate, a step toward the left-hander's likely promotion to the Majors in September.

Willis was sidelined after tearing a fingernail on his throwing hand on Aug. 5, but threw an inning in relief on Wednesday.

The Giants envision a relief role for Willis, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and a 22-game winner in 2005 with Florida. With Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and soon-to-be-activated Dan Runzler available, Willis would be a secondary option when manager Bruce Bochy needs a left-hander from the bullpen.