Jason Giambi will make his 2014 season debut tonight for the Cleveland Indians as they take on the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Giambi is coming off of a rib injury that he suffered in spring training when he was hit by a pitch. Giambi will be the Tribe DH and will be batting 7th in the lineup as the Indians face off against right hander Jeremy Guthrie(2-0, 4.34 ERA).
Giambi, who was brought in last offseason, hopes to give a spark to the struggling Tribe offense. The Indians rank 11th in the AL in average and 7th in runs scored. Both rankings are low for a team that expected to be much higher after locking up young stars Kipnis, Brantley, and Gomes to go along with Swisher, Bourn, and Santana. While it still is early in the season, nobody expected for so many of the Tribe hitters to be facing the slumps many of them are.
Manager Terry Francona hopes that Giambi can provide a little of the veteran leadership at the plate that he displayed numerous times last season. Giambi may not be the big HR and RBI guy he was in his youth, but he can still come up with the big hit. As many recall, Giambi had a number of clutch AB’s last season. Most memorably was his walk-off to beat Chicago in the midst of the Tribe’s 10 game winning streak to end the season.
Giambi, who actually looked into managing the Rockies last season, has shown some late career magic for the Tribe. On a team with so much young and developing talent, it is a major plus to have a guy with as much experience as Giambi. Giambi has just about seen it all during his nearly 20 years in the majors. When the rest of the guys may be pressing to get out of a slump, Giambi can help them relax and help them work through it.
Giambi will most likely take a couple of games to get his timing back at the major league level. That being said, it would not surprise me if he steps to the plate to a chorus of cheers from the Tribe faithful. I’ll say he goes 1 for 4 with a home run in his return this evening.