Indians manager Terry Francona is enjoying having 42-year-old Jason Giambi in camp. In fact, so much so that Giambi will very likely make the Indians’ roster when camp breaks at the end of the month. The Plain Dealer’s Bud Shaw has the details:
He sounds almost that cheery every time Giambi’s name is mentioned. The way Francona talks about him, Giambi would have to accidentally get run over by a Vespa peloton not to make the Indians’ roster out of spring training.
“He has a presence about him,” Francona said when asked about Giambi’s at-bats in camp. “He doesn’t swing at bad pitches ever. He’ll take a walk. He still has his bat speed. I’ve been very impressed.
Francona noted that Giambi won’t face left-handed pitching during the season, even though Giambi posted an .848 OPS against them in 30 plate appearances with the Colorado Rockies last season. Giambi has yet to record a hit in 11 spring training at-bats but has drawn three walks.
Before the Rockies hired Walt Weiss to be their new manager, there were rumors that Giambi would retire as a player to run the show in Colorado. For now, the lefty is happy to continue his playing career in Cleveland.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .