Major Leagues: Giambi excited about being back with Athletics
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) ó Tanned, toned and casually dressed fresh off his Mexican getaway, Jason Giambi sat down with Oakland general manager Billy Beane to his right and manager Bob Geren to his left and didn’t waste a second before speaking.
“I’m excited you guys are all here. I’m excited about this,” Giambi said Wednesday before he’d even given the Athletics time to formally introduce him for his second stint with the club.
That came next, when the cameras went live and Giambi pulled on his new ó and old, for that matter ó No. 16 jersey and posed in the very room where he was recognized for his AL MVP award back in 2000.
Giambi is returning to his professional baseball roots with the low-budget A’s, a far cry from the past seven years he spent with the New York Yankees but familiar nonetheless.
Giambi and the A’s finalized a $5.25 million, one-year contract with a club option Wednesday, bringing the free-agent designated hitter and first baseman back to the place where he began his big league career. The sides had reached a preliminary agreement earlier this week but Giambi still needed to complete the obligatory physical for the deal to get done.
“In our minds he’s still one of the best offensive players in the league,” Beane said. “He was one of the best when he left and for seven years he did the same thing with the Yankees that he did with the A’s. We’re looking forward to seeing more of that. First and foremost, we’re talking about a guy who has been one of the greatest Oakland Athletics on the field, but you’re also talking about arguably one of the most popular players we’ve ever had. I didn’t realize how much I missed him. …
“At the risk of going on too long and telling everybody how much I love you, Jason, I feel like I’m marrying my ex-wife. I talked to Jason on Christmas Eve and told him, ‘We’re getting the band back together.”‘
Giambi, who turns 38 on Thursday, follows a line of aging and injury-prone designated hitters in recent years with the A’s ó Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Mike Sweeney and then Thomas again. Giambi also could play some first base to give Daric Barton a break from time to time.
After leaving the A’s following the 2001 season, Giambi signed a $120 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees. He was slowed by injuries and investigations of performance-enhancing drugs.