Aubrey Huff hopes to return Monday

SAN FRANCISCO -- Aubrey Huff said Friday he is encouraged by his progress dealing with anxiety disorder, and believes he will be ready to return to the field for the San Francisco Giants on Monday when eligible to come off the disabled list.

"I hope so," Huff told The Associated Press. "A lot has been lifted off my chest the last two weeks."

Huff on Friday shared details with the San Francisco Chronicle of a startling, eight-hour panic attack that began in his New York hotel room early on April 23, when the Giants played a doubleheader with the Mets. Huff headed home to Florida and had another such attack the following day, then called Giants athletic trainers and told them what happened after initially saying he had a family emergency.

Huff said he doesn't know what caused the panic attack.

"I couldn't breathe," Huff told the Chronicle. "I felt I was taking short breaths. Right then and there I thought I was having a heart attack. I told myself, `I'll be damned if I'm going to be sitting in this hotel room and die of a heart attack. I've got to get out of here."

Manager Bruce Bochy has said Huff will be activated on time Monday as long as he is ready both mentally and physically. Huff, whose father was murdered in Texas when he was 6, has been taking batting practice and doing other baseball activities to keep himself sharp while also undergoing treatment for his condition.

With top hitter Pablo Sandoval sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks after undergoing surgery Friday on a broken hamate bone in his left hand, the Giants are short-handed. Bochy believes Huff can give the team a lift when he comes back.

The Giants haven't decided if Huff will join them right away Monday to face the first-place Dodgers in Los Angeles or take a short rehab assignment.

"There's a good chance he will (be with us), but if we decide he needs a couple games we will give them to him," Bochy said Friday.

Huff played a key role in the Giants' improbable 2010 World Series championship, the first since the franchise moved West in 1958.

The 35-year-old Huff came into this season with as much to prove as anybody, but was encouraged about bouncing back with a big year.

He did regular pilates as part of his offseason workouts in hopes of returning to his form from two years ago, when he batted .290 with a team-leading 26 home runs and 86 RBIs and was promptly rewarded with a $22 million, two-year contract that pays him $10 million this year and also includes a $10 million club option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout.

Then he hit .246 last season with 12 homers and 59 RBIs. Like Pablo Sandoval before him, he's the latest player to publicly be called to task by general manager Brian Sabean and Bochy.

The first baseman and left fielder is batting .182 (6 for 33) with one home run and four RBIs in 12 games this season. He was placed on the 15-day DL on April 25 after leaving the team in New York to attend to personal matters in Florida.

He returned to San Francisco last Friday and issued a statement regarding his issues, thanking fans, media and Giants organization for the "outpouring of support" during what he called a "very difficult week."

Huff said Friday he is now in a better place -- and he certainly appears more upbeat and eager to get back to work. He was smiling while stretching out on the grass under sunny skies before pregame warmups at AT&T Park.

"It beats rain and that mist coming down," Huff said with a grin.