CLEVELAND: Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi is expected to come off the disabled list and rejoin the team on Monday.
Giambi has yet to make his season debut after hitting the disabled list with a fractured rib. He played in three games for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks, but went 0-for-8 and reached base just twice.
Giambi said he’ll be activated Monday. Manager Terry Francona wasn’t as black-and-white as that, but said Giambi’s return on Monday is the plan for now.
“Just trying to keep our bullpen, our team in order, if we shoot for Monday that will make things a little bit easier as far as moving forward with our team,” Francona said.
Giambi said before his rehab games that the key was for him to face velocity. Despite the results, Giambi said he now feels good and is ready to return.
“I felt great. I just wish we would have had warmer weather,” he said. “It’s been my little mini-spring training where I come in and take 50-100 swings and take some at-bats in some minor-league games. ... I just needed to get out there and have some adrenaline and actually be in the game and swing the bat and see what it felt like.”
Francona has been a major advocate of Giambi’s dating back to last season.
“I think G brings a certain — guys know he’s there. Shoot, I know he’s there,” Francona said. “He can be a settling influence, he can kick guys in the pants. He’s a great guy to be around. Believe me, I wouldn’t say all these things if they weren’t true.”
Giambi expects to resume a similar role as last season, playing “good matchup baseball.” He hit only .183 last year but did have perhaps the season’s most memorable hit, a walk-off home run against the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 24 that came in the midst of the Tribe’s run to the postseason. That big-swing ability is another reason Francona wants to keep Giambi in Cleveland.
“If you can, you make a guy a coach. But G can change the game in the batter’s box,” Francona said. “He’s not here to hit .300. He’s here to change the game with one of his swings and he has the ability to do that.”
The Indians are still using an eight-man bullpen, so it’s likely that a relief pitcher will be sent down to make a roster spot for Giambi. Relievers C.C. Lee (two) and Blake Wood (one) each have options left, so they represent the most likely candidates to be sent down. Entering Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Lee has allowed one earned run in three innings pitched with two strikeouts. Wood has allowed five earned runs on only four hits and five strikeouts in 5⅓ innings pitched.
Lee has been better but also has an extra option over Wood.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.