Many years ago, Jason Giambi was a name that struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. He won the 2001 AL MVP award while with Oakland, got his big payday with the Yankees, and went on to serve in a part-time role for the Rockies for a few years. And of course, he was a pivotal part of the Tribe’s playoff push last season, including a walk-off homer against the White Sox to bail out Chris Perez.
This season, however, he hasn’t played much. While he’s brought the same phenomenal player-coach value to the team that he did last year, the miracle homers just haven’t been there. A fractured rib sustained by being hit with a pitch in spring training caused him to open the season on the DL. After coming back, he was conveniently put on and off the 15-day DL (for what they called right knee inflammation) to make roster crunches easier. This way, Giambi could remain in the locker room and act as a player-coach while not taking up a spot on the 25-man roster. After being transferred to the 60-day DL, he no longer took up a spot on the 40-man, either. It’s been convenient for the team, and has allowed Giambi to get paid while keeping his veteran presents around without sacrificing a roster spot for the youngsters.
But the charade can’t continue forever. Giambi is set to come back in September when rosters expand, and thus he has begun the formality of a rehab stint with the Akron Rubberducks. On Tuesday, Giambi started for the Rubberducks and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Jaron Long, an average minor-league pitcher who’s never even been so much as mentioned in conversation about the Yankees’ top 20 prospects. Long has no real major-league caliber pitches yet, and takes photos like this.
It remains to be seen how much playing time Giambi will receive come September, but despite the fact that we at Wahoo’s on First will always love his #veteranpresents, his “rehab” stint isn’t going well so far. That being said, there’s still some time for that to change.