George Huguet has had to overcome a lack of size, injuries, and most recently, illness, during his four years on the baseball team, so it should be no surprise that he handles pressure-filled situations on the diamond with a smile.
Huguet, a senior closer for the Hurricanes, will most likely break Danny Smith’s record for appearances (123) this season. As of Friday he had pitched in 112 games at Miami.
Huguet has yet to give up a run in three outings this season and has two saves. His perfect earned run average is remarkable when considering that a few weeks ago he was hospitalized with pneumonia.
“I was feeling kind of sick a couple of weeks ago, and I did not really take care of myself like I should have…it was something that I let elevate that I should have taken care of earlier,” Huguet said.
The finance major said that he would have missed less time had he not been tested for meningitis.
“When I had the pneumonia, the doctors tested me for meningitis, so I had to take the spinal tap stuff,” he said. “It wasn’t so much the illness that bothered me; it was the after-effects. When they draw fluids from you during the spinal tap, you get these headaches that only go away when you lie down.”
Huguet’s return has had a positive impact on the entire pitching rotation.
“[Huguet’s return] gives you so much flexibility,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “We’re able to put Cesar Carrillo in the rotation, which we wanted to do. Also, it gives us more of an opportunity to make different moves in the bullpen…without this, we don’t have that opportunity.”
Morris said that Huguet’s success thus far is not surprising, even when considering the lengthy illness. Huguet missed the Regionals last year with a broken hand as well.
“He’s pitched very well,” Morris said. “It’s what you would expect from George. He’s the guy that, in the ninth inning of a one-run game, he’s not going to go out there, walk people and choke. It takes a special individual to be able to handle those situations.”
While Huguet hopes to impress enough scouts to earn a chance to play professionally, his situation is different than most prospects.
“Hopefully I get a shot and get drafted,” he said. “I don’t really care about the money. I am a senior now, and they usually don’t give seniors a lot of money when they are drafted. I just want to get a shot to play minor league ball and go out and prove myself.”
Huguet said that he would continue to work as a reliever in the minor leagues.
“I don’t think I will ever be a starter because scouts usually like tall guys as starters,” he said. “They can throw six or seven innings with less effort. A guy my size [6’0″], not being very tall, [has] to put as much as I can into every pitch. I think my starting days are over.”
Huguet lives a humble lifestyle, choosing to relax at home and spend time with his family.
“I don’t live around here and I don’t have a car,” he said. “I live in Miami Lakes [part of Hialeah, Fla.] so most of my friends from back there are away at school. I spend a lot of time in my neck of the woods. I try to hang out with the guys on the team as much as I can, especially because it is my last two months of school.”
Huguet said that when he finishes his career with the Hurricanes in a few months, he would like to be remembered as a durable, consistent closer.
“I want to be known as someone who can come in during pressure situations and get the job done, somebody who doesn’t get bothered,” he said. “I really don’t get bothered in tight games. One of my biggest dreams is to enter a World Series game with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning.”
Eric Kalis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.