Rockies creative with Giambi
Veteran first baseman Jason Giambi will back up Todd Helton but also be called upon to deliver key hits late in games. So the Rockies know they’re going to have to be creative to keep him sharp.
That started Thursday. Giambi made the trip to Peoria, Ariz., from Tucson, Ariz., to make four plate appearances (0-for-3, hit by a pitch) against the Mariners in the Rockies’ 9-2 victory. The main reason Giambi made the drive — something rare for big-name players — was to face Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith, a left-hander. The Rockies have not seen many of those this spring.
Before Thursday, Giambi had stepped in the box against a lefty just once.
Giambi also will play in some Minor League games for at-bats.
Almost as important is keeping sharp at first base, since he’ll have to spell Helton. The Rockies believe Giambi can be effective defensively in part-time duty. Last year with the Athletics, Giambi was forced into regular playing time at first because of injuries. A worn Giambi hit .193 before being released.
He found a revival with the Rockies while being used mostly as a pinch-hitter during a successful September push to the playoffs. The Rockies will not let him play himself into a wall. Just in case Helton has to miss extended time, the Rockies are preparing utility man Melvin Mora and right fielder Brad Hawpe for occasional duty at first base.
“It’s a little bit different,” Giambi said. “But at the same time, you start to get older. Being in the situation we are, it’s a great Rockies ballclub. I’m excited to be a part of it. I expect a lot of great things this year.
“I feel great. I’m moving around good. I’ve made some good plays defensively [this spring].”