PHOENIX – The call didn’t come until February, but when it did come with an invitation to the Cleveland Indians’ spring training camp, it was right on time.
Longtime A’s first baseman Jason Giambi, who just turned 42, said yes when Cleveland called and is likely to be the part-time designated hitter and full-time mentor to the young corps of Indians hitters. He’s just fine with that.
“I’ll be out here until they tear the uniform off me,’’ Giambi said in the visitors’ dugout before Cleveland paid a Cactus League call on the Oakland A’s Monday.
“It’s a good opportunity to get some playing time, and they want me to mentor the young kids, which is something I’d been doing in Colorado anyway. And I love to play ball.’’
Giambi has known Cleveland manager Terry Francona since Francona was managing the Chicago White Sox Double-A Birmingham team on which one Michael Jordan was the star attraction in the mid-1990s. Giambi played for Huntsville at the same time.
“It started then and we really became friends when he was managing Boston and I was with the Yankees,’’ Giambi said. “Nothing’s guaranteed, but it would be great to play for him.’’
Giambi, who has 1,405 career RBIs and 429 homers, needs to have a decent spring to make the team, but Francona has said the opening is there if Giambi grabs it.
Down the line, Giambi is open to coaching or managing when he’s done playing.