CLEVELAND (AP) — Jason Giambi’s long career, the highs and lows and everything in-between, has brought the slugger back to his beginnings.
Just as he did as a rookie in 1993, he’s wearing No. 72.
“I guess I’ve come full circle,” the Indians slugger said.
Giambi was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Monday for the surging Indians, who have moved within 3 1/2 games of first-place in the AL Central. The 43-year-old had been sidelined since June 12 with soreness in his left knee. But the popular player is back in time to help Cleveland’s playoff push.
When Giambi broke in with the Oakland Athletics 21 years ago he was given No. 72 and a locker near Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, one of the most intimidating closers in history.
“I was so scared, I couldn’t even talk to him,” Giambi said. “Turns out he was a teddy bear and we became close friends.”
Giambi, who also missed time this season with a broken rib and strained calf, needed a new number after surrendering No. 25 to former Indians star Jim Thome, who signed a one-day contract to officially retirie with Cleveland earlier this season when the club unveiled a statue in his honor.
The gesture was typical from Giambi, who has overwhelmed the Indians with his selflessness in two seasons with the club. He recently completed a rehab stint at Double-A Akron, where he helped mentor some of the club’s young players.
Indians manager Terry Francona is thrilled to have Giambi, whom he affectionately calls “G”, back with the team on a full-time basis.
“He stuck his head in (the office) today,” Francona said before the opener of a four-game series with Detroit. “He had a little bounce in his step. I think it means a lot to G. I think this has been hard on G this year. He has never once uttered a frustrating word to anybody. But I don’t think for one minute this has been easy for him and I respect him more now than I used to, which is hard because I think he’s so special and I think he even proved it this year with the way he handled the whole thing.
“What 43-year-old guy who has that many years goes to Double-A ball and gets at-bats? Nobody, except for G.”
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