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MILWAUKEE -- Having been out of the Giants' starting lineup for almost exactly one month, first baseman Aubrey Huff started his first game Tuesday since being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Huff showed promise in three of his four plate appearances. He flied out to the right-field warning track in the first and sixth innings and drew a two-out walk in the fourth. That prolonged the inning for Joaquin Arias, who proceeded to hit his first Major League home run.
"The two balls I did hit, I just missed them," Huff said, sensing that he came close to homering. "That's a good start for sure."
The move generated little surprise, since manager Bruce Bochy said recently that he would try to start Huff soon.
"It's time to let him play to see where he is with his swing," Bochy said.
Bochy liked what he saw from Huff: "Overall, it looked like he saw the ball decent."
Bochy wouldn't guarantee that Huff also will start Wednesday afternoon's series finale against Milwaukee, indicating that he would use a fresh player in a day game following a night game.
Huff hadn't started since April 21 in New York, when he made his ill-fated switch from first to second base that contributed to a 5-4 loss. A mentally burdened Huff went on the disabled list on April 25, retroactive to April 22. He's hitting .163 with one home run and four RBIs.
Huff has thrived at Miller Park among active players, hitting .364 (20-for-55) with seven doubles, six home runs and 15 RBIs in 15 games.
Bochy said that he'll continue to try to use Brandon Belt and Brett Pill at first base. Belt had shown promise last week, when he drove in runs in four consecutive starts. But he entered Tuesday in an 0-for-9 skid with six strikeouts.
"I'd like to give Brandon at-bats," Bochy said. "At the same time, we're looking for some production at first base."
Giants first basemen entered Tuesday ranked in the middle of the pack or slightly lower in most offensive categories. They ranked sixth among National League teams in RBIs (20) and on-base percentage (.358), 10th in batting average (.257) and home runs (tied with three), and eighth in slugging percentage (.408).
Sanchez finds success with choking up
MILWAUKEE -- Despite being 22, Hector Sanchez takes an old-school approach to hitting when the count reaches two strikes. He chokes up on the bat, moving up his hands approximately two inches.
Sanchez, who won Monday night's series opener against Milwaukee with a 14th-inning home run, said that choking up gives him more bat control and bat speed when he needs it. Class A Augusta manager Lipso Nava, who was that team's hitting coach when Sanchez played there in 2010, coaxed him to try this technique.
"I have more chance to hit the ball," the switch-hitting Sanchez said. "With the fastball in, I can throw my hands at the ball. I feel comfortable."
Having hit a handful of home runs on two-strike counts, Sanchez believes that he doesn't sacrifice power when he chokes up.
"You can swing harder. That helps a lot," he said.